News Archive

(2108) Week of May 21, 2008

Quick response nets robbery suspects
Cannon concerns remain issue for Williamston council
Crout to run for mayor
Veterans Cemetery dedication Friday
Republicans  plan stump meeting
Schools named Red Carpet winners
Vote absentee Tuesday
Dickson hearing May 23
Budget information presented during early Council meeting
Proposed County budget increases by $25 million since April
Candidate interview Eddie Moore County Council District 3
Candidate Interview - Rick Freemantle County Council District 6
Deputies investigate assault incidents
Seems to Me . . . “I’m tired of the negativity too”

Quick response nets robbery suspects

Quick response by local law enforcement resulted in the capture of two men suspected of robbing Cash Time check cashing businesses at 8 Greenville St., Williamston Tuesday afternoon.

Williamston Police Chief David Baker said a black male in his early 20s walked into the business just as it was closing around 6 p.m. and presented an automatic handgun.

The suspect asked if the clerk was alone and when she responded that there was a manager in the business the suspect opted to leave, Chief Baker said.

The clerk reported the attempted robbery and moments later, hearing a be-on-the-look-out (BOLO) over the radio, West Pelzer Police Lt. David Rainey spotted a Ford Explorer on Hwy. 8 matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle.

Rainey pulled the vehicle over and detained the two black males until an investigation determined it was the robbery suspects, Chief Baker said. A weapon was recovered.

“The clerk’s description was very accurate,” Chief Baker said.

“It couldn’t have worked out better. This was a perfect example of how local law enforcement working together can make something happen.”

Facing charges of armed robbery, possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime and criminal conspiracy are Sandacher Rashad Myers, 19, 411 Crosby Circle, Greenville and Charles Leondaus Sullivan, 21, 470 McMahan Mill Rd., Piedmont.

A bond hearing was scheduled for 2 p.m. today (Wednesday).

Cannon concerns remain issue for Williamston council

During a meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved funding for an Eagle Scout project in the park, discussed termite damage and decided not to insure the town’s cannon, at least for now.

Council unanimously approved funding for an Eagle Scout project in Mineral Spring Park. Judson James Taylor Riddle plans to construct a wooden pergola with vines to be built over a concrete slab already in the park. Approximate cost for the project with treated lumber is $1500. Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. asked if the project would include Cedar which he said would hold up better. Acting on a motion by Mayor Phillip Clardy, Council unanimously agreed to fund the project up to $2,000, to include Cedar wood.

Council tabled discussion on repair estimates on possible structural damage done by termites to floor beams under town hall. Clardy said there is possible structural damage to beams located under Council chambers, along the foyer, and under the business office.

Council has already approved repair work to be done under the gym floor, refinishing the stage and other related repairs in the gym.

Clardy said he also wanted to look into sanding and refinishing of the gym floors.

Council initially approved the purchase of an annual property insurance policy to cover the town’s historic cannon, but the vote was later rescinded.

There was considerable discussion of insurance and liability for the cannon, which has been valued at $250,000.

Attorney Richard Thompson told council that they also needed to consider terms and conditions concerning use of the cannon.

“There needs to be some thought as to who can use this cannon,” he said.

Councilman Carthel Crout said he thought the council had already decided that (Allen Ashley’s) group is the only one that can use it.

Mayor Clardy said he would like to see the cannon used for different functions, historic purposes and display by various groups.

“I think we are limiting ourselves,” he said.

After additional discussion, Councilman Otis Scott made a motion to rescind the vote on the insurance.

Council voted 3-2 to rescind with Councilman David Harvell, Crout and Scott in favor of rescinding. Councilman Midlleton and Clardy were opposed.

Council approved a bid of $1975 by Carolina Climate Service for a preventive maintenance plan for AC units.

Council also approved a request by Jim Bundy to use the amphitheater for a wedding on July 12.

Council then went into a budget work session to receive legal advice concerning potential litigation, a potential claim file and conceptual phase discussion on the sewer plant.

A cost of living pay raise was one of the main issues discussed. Mayor Clardy said he would present a budget with a 3 percent increase and a budget with no increase.

The following budget work sessions dates were set:

Wednesday, May 28 - Fire Department/Parks and Recreation.

Friday May 30 - Police Department.

Monday, June 2 - Street Department.

Wednesday, June 4 - Water/Sewer.

Friday, June 6 - Administration.

All work sessions will be held at 5 p.m. First reading on the budget is expected to be held on June 9.

Final reading and budget hearing June 30.

Crout to run for mayor

Williamston Councilman A. Carthel Crout announced this week that he is placing his name in the running for the position of Mayor of Williamston.

Crout is the third candidate to announce for the office.

“I am running for the Mayor of Williamston to provide leadership and integrity to the office of mayor and the citizens of Williamston. The lack of leadership from Mayor Clardy over the past seven and one half years has almost destroyed this once beautiful town.”

Crout said his experience and background will help him in his duties as mayor and in running the town.

Crout has served as a Command Sergeant Major in the Army Reserve where he had more than 750 soldiers and millions of dollars of equipment under his direction.

He is a 1994 graudate of the US Sergeant Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas and he taught leadership in the NCO Academy.

Crout served as an Athletic Director and football coach for 38 years. He has a Masters Degree in Administration from Clemson University.

“I will use my formal education and my leadership skills from the Army and Athletic Director to bring leadership and integrity to the office of Mayor.”

Crout said that because of the lack of leadership, things were not being done for several years and are still not being done. “As of today, the mayor is still not following the policies and procedures put in place by vote of the Town Council.”

Crout said that for the last year and a half, council has been and is still doing the mayor’s job. He said that the mayor, who is responsible for the budget, did not provide a budget to the council last year, leaving the task to council.

“The mayor attended less than 15 percent of these budget meetings. He opted to attend a John McCain political rally in Greenville during one scheduled meeting,” Crout said.

Crout said that he asked for budget workshops back in January and as of Monday the council has not had any.

He said that the financial situation the town found itself in over the last few years is a result of the lack of leadership.

“Seven and one half years ago, Williamston had $1.4 million. One and a half years ago, we were $1.9 million dollars in the red. One and a half years ago, we had $300,000 in unpaid bills. Today, because of the actions of the town council, we are $1 million plus in the black,” Crout said.

“Because of the lack of leadership, the town had to sell our history to generate the funds to bail the mayor out of the hole he put the town in.”

Crout said cleaning up the town is a priority. He plans to hire a codes enforcement officer and to condemn dilapidated structures in the town. “If the property owner refuses to clean up the property, we will place liens on the properties.”

He also said that some areas of the town have serious infrastructure problems. “The communities of the Williamston Mill village, Brookdale Community and the Parker St. Community have serious problems with water and sewer lines.”

He said he will work to get grants to renew those areas of town and to upgrade the water and sewer lines which are 50 years old and failing.

He also points out that because of neglect and lack of supervision DHEC regulations are forcing the town to restructure the sewer plant.

He said if elected, the town will have a sound budget. “We will live by the budget.

Crout said he wants to work with the town council and community leaders to bring pride and unity back to the town and people will again be proud to say “I am from Williamston, SC.”

Veterans Cemetery dedication Friday

The South Carolina Office of Veterans Affairs and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs will be dedicating the new South Carolina  M.J. “Dolly” Cooper Veterans Cemetery on Friday, May 23, at 11 a.m..

“The facility will help ensure that all South Carolina veterans can be buried in a veterans cemetery honoring their service,” a spokesperson said.

This will be the first state owned and operated veterans’ cemetery in the history of South Carolina. The cemetery is located at 140 Inway Drive, adjacent to the Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home.

Construction  of the cemetery was a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, who awarded a grant of $5.1 million dollars to construct and equip the cemetery.

The cemetery opened on December 14, 2007. It is operated and funded by the state of South Carolina, through the Governor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs. It is located on 57 acres with Phase 1, 28 acres now developed.

The cemetery is named after decorated World War II veteran and former state Rep. M.J. “Dolly” Cooper.  Cooper, a staunch supporter of his fellow veterans, often visits the Campbell facility.

For his service to our country, he was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, E.A.M.E.T. Medal with five Bronze Service Stars, American Defense Service Medal, and Combat Infantry Badge.

Cooper was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1974, serving on the Medical, Municipal, and Military Affairs Committee where he worked to improve health care for all South Carolinians.

Cooper was awarded the Order of the Palmetto in 1990 by longtime friend and neighbor, Governor Carroll Campbell.

The dedication of the cemetery is a culmination of a partnership with the State of South Carolina and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs whereby the federal government provided a grant of $5.1 million to construct and initially equip the cemetery. Congressman Gresham Barrett and the Under Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs for Memorial Affairs, William Tuerk, will assist in the dedication.

Republicans  plan stump meeting

The public is invited to attend. For additional information, please contact the cemetery staff at (864) 332-8022.

State Representative Dan Cooper and the Anderson County Republican Women will host a Stump Meeting on Thursday, May 22 from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

The event will take place at Zink’s Farm located at 1509 Circle Road in the Powdersville Community.

All Republican candidates at the county, state and federal level have been invited to attend. Free hamburgers and the trimmings will be provided along with bluegrass music.

For further information or to RSVP please call 420-8893 . 

Schools named Red Carpet winners

Two Greenville County School District schools, Woodmont High School and Fork Shoals Elementary School, were among sixty-six schools honored recently with Red Carpet awards to recognize their success at creating family-friendly school environments and providing excellent customer service.

State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex announced the winners of this year’s awards, which have become highly prized by South Carolina schools. The schools will receive actual red carpets to display in their lobbies.

“Schools that are parent-friendly, schools that have strong customer service, are more likely to be supported by their communities,” said Rex. “And community involvement can play a big part in schools’ academic success. This year’s Red Carpet winners understand that.”

More than 280 schools applied for the award last fall. Applicants provided written details about their family-friendly philosophies and environments, along with the methods used to self-evaluate those efforts. They also were required to include copies of their schools’ communication plans.

Schools that passed the written application phase were then screened by independent judges who rated how telephone callers and visitors were treated. Judges did not identify themselves during telephone calls or site visits, and site visits were not announced in advance.

Winning schools receive red carpets with the state seal to display in their lobbies, and they maintain their recognition status for a three-year period.

This year’s recipients include two primary schools, 46 elementary schools, eight middle schools, eight high schools, one technical school and the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind.

The Red Carpet Schools initiative was one of only two programs in the nation to receive a Distinguished Single Project Award from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) in 2003. The program has also been featured in NSPRA’s monthly newsletter as well as the monthly newsletter of the National Elementary Principals Association.

Specific items that judges evaluated on their site visits included: 

Outside - Clearly marked visitor parking spaces near the front door.

Well-kept grounds that are free of debris and trash.

Plainly marked entrances, particularly the main entrance door.

Front entrance/lobby

Clean and appealing lobby/front entrance.

“Welcome to our school” signs that clearly direct visitors

to the main office.

Attractive, colorful displays of student achievement and school

events.

Office - Clean and tidy front office.

Reading material about the school available for visitors.

Welcoming and professionally dressed staff who greet visitors

promptly and quickly ask to offer assistance.

Visitor badges available.

Telephone - Telephones that are answered promptly (within three rings) and professionally.

Person answering the phone has basic, up-to-date information

readily accessible.

Callers are put through to appropriate parties promptly.

Vote absentee Tuesday

Registered voters, who qualify, and intend to cast absentee ballots in the June 10 Republican and Democratic Primary in-person may do so beginning on Tuesday, May 27.

In-person Absentee Voting will be conducted Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. in Room 105 and will conclude on Monday, June 9 at 5 p.m. The Voter Registration Office is located in the old Bailes Building, directly behind the Historic Courthouse,107 South Main Street.  For more information on this or if you wish to vote Absentee by mail you may contact us at 864-260-4035.

Voters who wish to cast an Absentee Ballot in-person must bring a form of identification. Acceptable forms are a S.C. Driver’s license, a photo ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles or a Voter Registration Card.  Voters must complete the Absentee Application and check the reason why they must vote absentee.

Dickson hearing May 23

By Stan Welch

Nathan Casey Dickson,18,  charged with the murders of four family members, is scheduled for a bond hearing on Friday, May 23 at 10 a.m. in the Anderson County Courthouse.

Dickson was charged with the slaying last week of his father, Samuel Andrew Dickson, 46; Dickson’s wife, Martiza Hurtado Dickson, 46; her daughter Melissa Jilliam Salazar, 19; and Taylor Alex Dickson, 14.

While the circumstances of the crimes meet the criteria for seeking the death penalty, Tenth Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams has not yet officially announced whether she will seek the death penalty on the case.

Anderson School District One officials said Wren Middle is mourning the loss of Taylor Dickson, who was an 8th grade student at the school.

Last week friends and fellow students responded with hand written notes and special counseling was being made available.

The Powdersville community was in shock following the news of the shooting.

Budget information presented during early Council meeting

By Stan Welch

 The special called meeting of the Anderson County Council Tuesday afternoon was dedicated to a budget presentation to the Council.

Among the items of information offered:

 The Sheriff has repaid all but $945,335 of the $2.9 million he was advanced by the county last year. The 4.5 mil levy that was put on to generate those funds was removed from this year’s budget as promised last year.

The 800 MHz communications system will cost the county $796,000 in annual rental fees.   

The rental fee accounts for the increase in the County’s debt service from $8.1 million to $8.9 million in the coming year.

The value of the mil is estimated at $565,000 for the coming budget year, an increase of $54,000 per mil over last year. At that rate, the increase, multiplied by the 75.4 mil levy for the general fund, would generate approximately $4.3 million in additional revenues.

Twenty five new hires would be included in the budget, with ten of them slated for the public safety department. 

An ambitious building and renovation program including a $3.2 million animal shelter, several parks and a new community center at Broadway Lake would be funded by a $9.5 million general obligation bond issue.

A three percent cost of living increase for the county’s 900 plus employees would result in a $1.2 million increase, with a proposed one per cent merit raise adding an additional $.4 million.

Lease purchase agreements for $6.4 million worth of heavy equipment are also proposed in the budget.

The budget has increased since it was first introduced at workshops last month from $131 million to $149 million, an increase of almost twenty per cent.

The issue of the special called meetings, initiated by Chairman Michael Thompson earlier this year, also came up. Councilman Larry Greer made a strong statement of opposition to the meetings, saying that the meetings were a disservice to the public.

“I call for an ending to these meetings. I totally disagree with this budget presentation being made at a special called meeting. This should be done at a regular meeting of this Council. I call for an end to these meetings. They were an experiment and they have not met expectations.”

Councilman McAbee said he generally liked the early meetings but agreed that the budget deliberations should be done at a regular meeting. He added that he would like to see Council members’ remarks added to the regular meeting agenda instead of the early meeting. “It offers a chance to smooth some feathers and perhaps make peace.”

 Ms. Floyd said she liked the early meetings because she thinks the people deserve to have their representatives make decisions when they aren’t tired.

Mr. Thompson gave no indication that he would change the schedule.

Proposed County budget increases by $25 million since April

By Stan Welch

Political posturing and budgetary surprises were the order of the day at the May 20 meeting of the Anderson County Council. 

The budget proposed by Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston for fiscal year 2008-2009 has exploded since the budget workshops in April. At the first workshop, the budget was estimated at approximately $124,000,000.

By May 20, the day the budget was scheduled for first reading, that number had reached $149,000,000.The increase would include the hiring of twenty five new employees, which would bring the County total to approximately 950.

According to the county administrator that number fluctuates from day to day.

An ambitious capital projects program, including a $3.2 million animal shelter and several major recreational facilities account for more than five million dollars of that increase.

Renovation and refurbishing projects at several other buildings account for several more millions, including $1.5 million for renovations at McCants School, $1.2 million in renovations at the Ronnie Townsend government office building. A new community center at Broadway Lake is budgeted for $.9 million as well.

In an action separate from her concerns about the budget, District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson offered two cuts from a proposed bond issue of $2.8 million that would have removed $1.02 million from the issue. One was a wastewater treatment improvement slated for a tract of property near the intersection of Hwy. 81 and I-85. Originally budgeted at $320,000, it went to $520,000 in the later version.

Wilson said she had understood that the project was designed to improve service in the Webb Road area. “I now find that it appears to be designed to profit certain individuals whose benefit is not the business of the County.”

Councilman Ron Wilson, in whose district the area lies, was offended by what he called her “hinting that something’s going on.”

 “I have no real estate license so I don’t know about such things. I suspect you would however,” said Mr. Wilson.

She also suggested cutting a half million dollars slated for construction of a hangar at the airport. “The finance director has already told us that a special fund will be established for such purposes, so why issue a bond for that?” asked Wilson.

District Three Councilman Larry Greer tried to tie a vote for the bond issue to a vote for progress and economic development, saying, “If I remember right we were told that we need to improve our infrastructure along the interstate. So would it be a fair statement to say a vote against this bond issue is a vote against economic development?”

Ms. Wilson retorted that she would not be labeled with such a blanket statement, saying “I would vote for most of the projects on this list, but one is clearly intended to benefit someone besides the people of Anderson County.”

Ms. Wilson’s amendment to cut the two projects died from a lack of a second, and the bond issue received second reading approval with her abstention.

She also tried to table the first reading of the budget until the changes could be reviewed and discussed. 

“This is almost a nineteen per cent increase in the budget since last month. How can any Council member vote for this without studying it? These are major changes and in this economic climate, we should be looking for ways to slow this spending, not increase it by such huge amounts.”

District One Councilman Bob Waldrep tried to cut several recreation projects, totaling $3 million dollars, funds which he sought to reallocate to TriCounty Tech, which received less than their budget request last year, and whose students had to pay an additional $78 in fees to make up the shortfall. That effort led to an elaborate parliamentary dance for the next twenty minutes.

Waldrep sought to defer the recreational projects, including the Dolly Cooper Park in Powdersville, and a quarter of a million dollar renovation to the community building in Honea Path, until next year.

“I see that these projects are located in almost every district except mine,” said Waldrep laughingly. “And I’m sure they will make certain Council members very popular in their areas. But this is not the time to be spending these funds on this type of project. We need to set priorities.”

County Financial Analyst Gina Humphreys addressed Waldrep’s concerns about Tech’s funding by saying that the mil might be valued higher than her $565,000 estimate, which would increase the Tech school’s funding. Waldrep replied that he was “astonished in light of the budget wizardry we have seen that we can’t find a way to fully fund these students, the seed corn of our economic development efforts.”

After being told that the special levy that funds TCT cannot be increased this year due to state imposed limits, Waldrep removed that clause from his amendment but retained his request to delete the recreational items from the budget.

District Four Councilman Bill McAbee then made an amendment to reinstate all the items except the Honea Path project, which is located in Councilwoman Wilson’s District. Councilman Greer then amended the amendment to the amendment to restore the entire list including the Honea Path project.

McAbee then stated that his amendment was intended to make the point that regardless of whether each district might benefit, sometimes the general good of the county must be considered. I will withdraw my amendment if Mr. Greer and Mr. Waldrep will withdraw theirs,” said McAbee.

Waldrep refused to withdraw his amendment to defer the projects for a year and it was defeated by a vote of 2-5, with Ms. Wilson joining him. The original amendment to delete the items was defeated 1-5-1 with Ms. Wilson abstaining. Chairman Thompson then called for the vote on the first reading and it passed 6-1 with Ms. Wilson opposed.

Ms. Wilson also questioned the proposed $3.2 million cost for the new animal shelter and low cost spay/neuter clinic. 

Michael B. Glenn and his wife Carole announced that they were donating a twelve acre tract on Highway 29 for the new shelter. 

Wilson later asked by how much that would reduce the cost of the shelter, since it was originally budgeted with the need for a land purchase included. No response was forthcoming from county staff or Council members.

Several highlights of the budget include the fact that the 4.5 mils added for the Sheriff last year was removed this year returning the total millage to the 2007 level of 75.4 mils; the estimated value of a mil increased from $511,000 last year to $565,000 this year.

At that rate, if it proves accurate, the increase, based on 75.4 mills would generate an additional $4.26 million, or approximately sixteen percent of the total budget increase.

Second reading of the budget and a public hearing will be held at the June 5 council meeting.

Candidate interview - Eddie Moore
County Council District 3

By Stan Welch

District Three County Council challenger Eddie Moore wasn’t happy with the job the incumbent Larry Greer was doing two years ago when he first ran for the seat, and he isn’t any happier now.

“One problem I had back then was that the government here isn’t open and accountable. Mr. Greer plays a part in that as a member of Council, and the situation has gotten worse, not better,” said Moore in an interview this week. “I personally will not support any tax increases until we know where our money is going. The economy is hurting and everyone else is trimming back. But in Anderson County, it’s full steam ahead and let’s spend it anyway.”

That’s not Moore’s only problem with the current administration and Council, however. “The way we are handling economic development is wasteful and it isn’t getting the job done. If I were on Council, I would introduce controls that would require majority approval for any travel outside the county for purposes of economic development. The waste has to stop. I don’t have a problem with taking an employee out for lunch to show that you appreciate them. But take them to Ryan’s, not some place in Nashville. Ryan’s is good enough for me, it’s good enough for them too,” said Moore, who would like to see the county’s economic development efforts centralized and focused.

“Right now we have too many people involved, including Council members. Half of them don’t know what they are doing. Get a barn burner in there and put them in charge. Then let them do their job. But I would also work to complete the frontage road system along our section of the Interstate. Why buy a big piece of property when we need to make available property more accessible?”

Moore, who has more than thirty years experience in the field of engineering, says that his experience would be valuable on Council. “I am a certified PE in six states, and have more than 250 credit hours of study. I’m trying to organize it into a degree before I retire, but a lot of it was acquired in other countries. But I have experience in mechanical, civil and electrical engineering. For example, if I had been on Council, I could have helped avoid the fiasco involving Michelin Boulevard,” said Moore, who works for Fluor Enterprises, the world’s largest engineering company.

“That road is so far below standard, either state or federal, that it is a laughingstock among engineers. The state will never accept that road. It has no sublayer. It is atrocious in the way it was designed and built. Fluor is the best in the world, and because we are, we are expensive. But that little company was billing at a rate two and a half times our rate. And he still went bankrupt doing the job. One problem was that the road was laid out to touch too many cronies’ property and not for efficiency and safety.”

Moore says the County has an acceptable procurement system in place, but it doesn’t follow it. “There are contractors who no longer even bother to bid on projects in Anderson County. They say the bid system is so inconsistent that it’s a waste of time. Seems like no matter what they do, certain companies always seem to beat their bids by just a little bit. That’s not how you get competitive bids, by running qualified vendors off like that.”

Moore also has some tough words for his opponent. “Mr. Greer has been going around lately paving and handing out checks to the tune of more than $100,000. I think it’s vote buying, plain and simple, and it’s wrong. If I disburse money to various fire departments and other groups, it will be a budgeted item, done in the normal course of business, and not all in the last two months before an election. That’s one big difference between Mr. Greer and me.”

Candidate Interview - Rick Freemantle
County Council District 6

By Stan Welch

Rick Freemantle, challenger to incumbent Ron Wilson for the District Six County Council seat, says his campaign will be switching gears this week.

“I’ve been finishing up my exams at TriCounty Tech, and I am ready to hit the ground running,” said Freemantle. “I have more than 1200 homes I plan to visit door to door, so I have to get going. People have been after me to step things up, but I have to give my best effort to the studies too.”

Freemantle says he is running because District Six needs a conservative leader. “My opponent Ron Wilson has been neither. He is a liberal, who gave us more tax increases in one evening of voting than Bill Dees did in six years. Then, he pitched a fit because he couldn’t get a twenty five dollar road fee tacked on top of those taxes.”

Freemantle said that was the night he decided to run against Wilson again. He ran in the 2006 Republican primary when Wilson defeated incumbent Bill Dees and Freemantle for the Republican nomination, and since there was no Democratic opposition, the Council seat itself.

“He has also repeatedly voted against letting the people speak to their elected officials, and he has consistently voted against making financial records of the county accessible to the public. He has turned completely away from his promises to the people of District Six in 2006, and I think that those people are ready for a councilman who means what he says.”

Freemantle says he thinks Wilson is betting on his strength in the Powdersville area, and that it is a mistake. “A lot of people think that there is a big disconnect between the people in the Powdersville area and the rest of the district, but I don’t. The numbers and the nature of the people who turned out over the zoning issue convinced me that the folks in Powdersville have the same concerns the people in White Plains and Piedmont have.”

Infrastructure is a big issue, said Freemantle. “The budget for Anderson County 12 years ago was around $35 million. Today, it’s closer to $130 million. But the amount budgeted for roads and bridges is still the same as it was back then. Now, if this administrator is as good as he’s cracked up to be, why hasn’t he brought that percentage for roads along on a proportionate basis? It makes no sense.”

He has an interesting proposal for the County’s economic development program. 

“I would put these folks on a commission basis, paying more for bringing in more jobs. A company that hires five people isn’t worth as much as one that hires fifty. And I would give them six months to start producing, or I would fire them all and start over from scratch.”

He also questions what he sees as the lack of a proper bid procedure for awarding contracts. “For Mr. Wilson’s daughter to be hired as a consultant while he sits on that Council is ridiculous. If the County doesn’t have laws against that kind of thing, we need to pass some.”

(Editor’s note: Wilson’s daughter is a contracted consultant on sustainable agriculture with the County. She was awarded the contract without a bid process several months after Wilson took his seat on Council, and following his advice that she get into that line of work. He has said he knew nothing of the contract being awarded until after the fact.)

Freemantle, who speaks frequently during the public comment portion of the County Council meeting agenda, says that citizens deserve to be treated with respect and courtesy. “If I can come to your home and knock on your door, asking for your vote, then why can’t you address me by name at a public meeting and get an answer to your question? This is just a matter of respect, and it should be given to the people without question.”

Deputies investigate assault incidents

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated several assaults and thefts including copper and golf carts. Among incidents investigated:

BELTON 

May 13 – Sgt. P.J. Normandin responded to the home of county council candidate Eddie Moore where he received a report of the theft of approximately 100 of Moore’s campaign signs, including several large 4X8 foot signs, from various locations in the District 3 area. The total loss was estimated at $725.

May 14 – R.J. Payne responded to Pleasant Hill Baptist Church at 837 Rice Cemetery Rd. in response to a burglar alarm activation. According to evidence found at the scene someone had tried to disassemble an air conditioning unit but was unsuccessful.

May 16 – J.T. Lee was dispatched to 1114 Brown Rd. where John Rich reported shots being fired in the area. He and a neighbor, Jeff Davenport, heard the rounds pass through the woods over their heads. A third witness, James Cheek reported hearing shots and seeing a young black male in the woods behind Cheek’s house. He asked what the man was doing there but left the yard to take his three year old niece inside. When he returned the young male, wearing a white T shirt and blue jeans had left.

May 17 – P.D. Marter responded to the Jockey Lot where Mildred Cox reported that subject Andray Burns. BM, 19, of Anderson, had attempted to steal a cash box from her produce stand. She grabbed him and held him with the help of two others until Marter arrived. Burns was arrested on charges of petit larceny. The cash box contained approximately $167.

 EASLEY

ACSO Deputy T.B. Dugan investigated an armed robbery at the Dollar General Store at 3309 Pelzer Highway, where Julie Bailey and Edward Waggoner, employees of the store, reported that two black males wearing hooded sweat shirts, ski masks and gloves had come to the door with guns after the store was closed and forced Wagoner to let them in. They then forced him to open the safe and took $490. They forced the two employees to lie on the floor and they fled in a dark Ford Expedition. One suspect was described as being 5’10", 240 pounds, while the other was 5’10", 180 pounds. Detectives and forensic investigators also responded to the scene.

 May 14 – T.B. Dugan was dispatched to 5043 Sunset Dr. where Ray Brazell reported that someone had broken into his garage and stolen wheels, rims, power and hand tools valued at almost $9400.

May 16 – T.B. Dugan spoke with Sharon Roper who stated she was driving down East Church St. when a yellow truck ran her off the road. The truck was dragging a chain link fence. Dugan began checking the area and found that the chain link gate at Bradley’s Auto Sales was damaged. He called the owner who confirmed that there had been a 1979 yellow International truck in the fenced lot earlier that day. The truck and the gate were subsequently recovered nearby.

May 18 – M.J. McClatchy was dispatched to 1018 Shiloh Rd. Christina Ward reported that she had gone to the residence to retrieve a vehicle tag belonging to her. She said her boyfriend had been driving the vehicle while under the influence and without a license while it is under her insurance. She said he became angry and slashed the two left side tires. The boyfriend told the deputy that she did it to get him in trouble. The vehicle was towed and she planned to seek damages for the repairs. McClatchy intended to present the case to the magistrate.

PELZER

May 14 – J.T. Bowers responded to 19 Langley St. where Melissa Davis reported that her son Matthew Davis, WM, 18, had struck her during an argument. He had left the premises by the time the deputy arrived. Bower planned to see a magistrate for a warrant.

May 18 – B.K. Baxter was dispatched to 1049 Pelzer Hwy. where Angel Joshua reported a burglary the DH Auto Sales car lot. One vehicle was stolen and others damaged, as well as several other items being stolen. The total losses and damages were estimated at $8200.

PIEDMONT

May 13 – K.D. Pigman responded to 401 Major Rd. where Shannon Pressley reported that she had been involved in an argument with a friend of her son Michael, while the two boys were at her home. Reports state that the son threatened to kill her. Pigman intended to present the case to a magistrate.

May 13 – T.B. Dugan responded to Shiloh Rd. where a man stated that his juvenile son had punched him during an argument. The fifteen year old was charged with assault and battery and released to his parents with a custodial promise signed.

May 13 – P.D. Marter was dispatched to Sulzer Pumps, 108 Hurricane Creek where Tim Mahoney, the manager, reported that someone had disabled 4 twenty ton air conditioning units by stealing copper tubing from them. The tubing was valued at $2500 while the damage was estimated at $20,000.

May 13 – P.D. Marter was dispatched to 125 LaCannon Dr. to HotRod Construction, where Dan Wickett stated that the shop’s air conditioning unit had been damaged by copper thieves, and a 2001 VW on the property had been damaged in an attempt to steal it. Total losses were estimated at $6500.

May 13 – M.J. McClatchy was dispatched to 132 Leader Rd. where Brian Stephens, of Bigham Cable Contractors reported the theft of a trailer containing to spools of coaxial cable. Total loss was estimated at $4000.

May 13 – K.D. Pigman responded to 311 Ross St. where Bobby Adams reported that someone had broken into his home and stolen an Xbox 360, a .22 revolver, and several magazines for a .22 auto rifle and a 9 mm auto. Total losses were valued at $880.

May 14 – J.M. Perry and J.J. Jacobs responded to 4 Civic Court where Michael Pressley surrendered to them on charges of assault and battery.

May 14 – J.M. Perry and J.J. Jacobs responded to 110 Southgate Circle in reference to a reported auto breaking in progress. Upon arrival, they found Shane Morrow, WM, 29, 5.9", 186 pounds, of 106 Wren Drive, inside a gray car. He claimed he had bought the car and the key he got with it didn’t work. He was found to be wanted on four warrants from Pickens County and was transported to the county line where Pickens deputies took him into custody.

May 18 – T.B. Dugan was dispatched to 3126 River Rd. where Melissa Newhouse reported the burglary of her home and the theft of a television, a laptop computer, jewelry and a set of collectible figurines with a total value of $3900.

WILLIAMSTON

May 16 – P.D. Marter was dispatched to Career and Technology Center, 702 Hwy 20 where Darryl Baynes reported an 18 year old student had assaulted him by pushing him to the ground and choking him as well. Marter was planning to speak with school officials before making any charges.

May 16 – M.J. McClatchy was dispatched to the Saluda Valley Country Club where Allen Anthony reported the theft of seven golf carts and four battery chargers. The loss was estimated at $21,000.

May 17 – S. Proner responded to 1113 Beaverdam Rd. where the owner of the bar at that location reported that a female customer had been cursing and insulting customers. She was located inside her car in the parking lot. Jesse Hartshorn, WF, 36, 5’7", 140 pounds, was subsequently arrested for public disorderly conduct.

May 18 – S. Proner reported to the Williamston Police Department to take custody of Steven Jordan, WM, 30, who was wanted on a bench warrant.

Seems to Me . . . “I’m tired of the negativity too”

By Stan Welch

“I was tired of the negativity in the Council meetings.” 

With those words, County Council Chairman Michael G. Thompson (not State Rep. Michael D. Thompson, because in this case the names have been clarified to protect the relatively innocent) explained his decision to begin having special called meetings of the County Council just a couple of hours before their regularly scheduled meetings on the first and third Tuesday of each month.

Speaking at a recent forum of Republican Council candidates, the incumbent Thompson answered a question about his decision to begin separating the County’s business into two meetings held on the same day by saying that there was too much negativity coming out of the Council meetings.

For those unfamiliar with the workings of the Council, that explanation was pointed directly at two members of Council, District One’s Bob Waldrep, and District Seven’s Councilwoman Cindy Wilson. Both share a bad habit, as far as Thompson and the rest of the Council are concerned. They ask questions and have the temerity to expect answers. Even worse, they often don’t believe the answers they get and ask more questions.

These two Council members consider such behavior to be part of their responsibilities and duties as elected officials. Mr. Thompson, and one can safely assume, Mr. Preston, consider such behavior negativity. Ms. Wilson has long been a thorn in the side of Mr. Preston, as well as the majority of council which unfailingly supports him. Mr. Waldrep is a thorn of shorter duration, but has the added bite of being the second voice in the wilderness. His complaints of being denied access to information do more than echo Ms. Wilson’s long running complaints; they amplify them a hundredfold.

Negativity in stereo.

Recently, the two malcontents, to use one of the politer terms one hears them called, began to enjoy some success in obtaining, and making public, records and receipts related to the use of county credit cards, both by county employees and by select members of the Council as well. Those records have proven to be of great interest among the voting public, some of whom apparently find meal tabs of several hundred dollars a bit hard to digest.

More negativity, no doubt. 

It was about the same time that those records were being frequently mentioned in Council meetings, with the Charter Communications television camera running, that Mr. Thompson decided it was time to start splitting these meetings up. He said at first that he was doing it in order to follow the examples of efficiency that Spartanburg and Greenwood Counties provide. “They have a meeting of the committee as a whole, and debate and discuss. But when they have the regular meeting, they don’t have to do all that. They just take their votes and do their business,” said Thompson at the first special called meeting he held.

He apparently considers taking a four hour meeting and splitting it into two meetings totaling four hours to somehow be efficient. The only thing the new arrangement efficiently does is take Waldrep and Wilson’s questions and reduce the audience that sees them from thousands to dozens, thereby reducing the negativity that comes from seeing Council members voting to refuse access to public records by public officials and the negativity of  Council members who have traveled with personal and business associates on the County credit cards cringing as questions are asked about those trips and the related expenses.

The most remarkable thing about this newly configured meeting schedule is that Thompson clearly intended it to reduce the embarrassment suffered by county administrator Joey Preston and the various Council members who couldn’t care less how he, or they themselves, use the county’s credit cards. He said so himself, when he abandoned the efficiency charade and admitted it was all about changing the tone of the Council meetings, and not the content.

It was intended to eliminate Waldrep and Wilson’s public forum for addressing those concerns to the general public, instead of a handful who can attend meetings at three in the afternoon, and hide them away, at least until after the June primary.

 The latest result of this skewed system is to remove any and all budget deliberation, and it is scant enough to begin with, from public view. The whole forty five minutes to be spent discussing the budget, which will total well over $125 million this year, will take place at the special afternoon meeting, when the cameras are still safely stowed away and the audience has been reduced to a handful.

There is an arrogance to this approach, a thumbing of the nose at the very public that finances all that the County does. It is a fine arrogance, carefully nurtured and fed by those who shelter most comfortably beneath it. It is the same arrogance that would assume, in the first place, that less than an hour of review and revision before giving first approval to a budget of such size and complexity is sufficient to one’s responsibilities on behalf of the general public.

The problem with this arrogant scheme is that the public doesn’t seem to be buying it. The voters, perhaps more than at any time in recent years, consider open government and accountability to be significant issues in the coming elections. Apparently, they think when someone who lives off taxpayers’ money gets a credit card, they should have to account for how and where they use it. They also seem to have the idea in their heads that elected officials should still hold sway over hired employees, even under such a convoluted and distorted system as Home Rule. Arrogance isn’t playing well this election year, at any level of politics.

Seems to me, Thompson’s and Preston’s plan to lower the curtain on the Wilson and Waldrep show may well be too little too late. I guess we’ll know in about three weeks.

Oh, please forgive the negativity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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