News Archive

(2206) Week of May 31, 2006

School budget includes 12.7 new teachers, salary increase

Local influences contribute to brothers’ writing, performing
NeedToBreathe
Most candidate contributions not available before election
Clardy teaching at Forest College
Barnes comments on pre-election process
Gilstrap seeking reelection to Greenville County Council
Syringes found in garbage can

School budget includes 12.7 new teachers, salary increase

During a work session held after their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Anderson School District One Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler updated Board members with a presentation highlighting the 2006/2007 budget.

The budget includes funding for 12.7 new teachers, additional pay for teachers assistants and nationally certified teachers and a 3.1 percent salary increase for all district employees. It also includes three new guidance counselors mandated by the state.

Also included are additional funding for increases in insurance, maintenance, utilities and technology upgrades.

It also includes additional student fees for library books, supplies and materials.

According to Dr. Fowler, the expanded budget is based on revenues generated from an additional 100 new students expected in the District and State funding which is increasing by $77 per student.

The 2007 projected EFA base student cost will be $2,367 resulting in additional funding which Fowler said, “Is a welcome addition to our budget.”

He also reported that the District One index of tax paying ability has decreased resulting in a greater percentage of funding coming from the state. State funding will go from 77 percent to 79 percent, resulting in more revenue from the state, Dr. Fowler said.

Dr. Fowler said the District is expecting growth of approximately 200 students this year, though budget figures are conservative with revenues based on only 100 students. Based on the EFA formula and the District’s projected enrollment of  8,316.39 students, funding from EFA is projected at $19,779,993.

The budget is based on state property tax relief remaining at $1.7 million and homestead exemption of $635,682. The value of a mill is set at $133,603.

Anticipated total revenue  for the 2006/2007 School District One budget is as follows: Revenue from local sources is budgeted at $15,656,312; State and EFA (including property tax rollback, homestead exemption and merchants inventory tax), is $29,465,583. Other sources include EIA and indirect costs of $1,210,748. Total projected revenues are budgeted at $46,332,643.

Budgeted expenditure increases over 2005 are as follows:

The budget includes a 2.61 percent salary increase for district employees and a .5 percent incerase in the local supplement for teachers, budgeted at $1,684,545. The increase will put the district at the same level as Greenville County and at or above Pickens County and Anderson District 5, Fowler said.

“We can’t attract the type of teachers you saw here tonight without it,” Fowler said referring to approximately 30 new teachers who were introduced at the start of the meeting.

The budget includes a 6 percent increase, or $120,000, for the District’s 115 teacher assistants who have all obtained a highly qualified status.

The increase places the average TA salary at $500 to $700 above the state average.

Dr. Fowler said teachers assistants in the District were promised additional pay if they met the higher standards. They all have either two year or  four year degrees or para professional qualifications to meet standards. The typical pay is 3 percent more, he said.

The average TA salary in the District is $16,500 with a range between $12,000 and $19,500 according to Dr. Fowler.

Due to student growth, the budget includes 12. 7 new teachers budgeted at $545,458.

Additional support personnel for school and a new guidance counselor is also included in the budget.

Fowler said the budget includes two new counselors paid by the state and an additional counselor at Powdersville Middle to meet requirements to reduce the number of students per counselor .

$10,000 is budgeted for ten teachers meeting National Board Certification who will each receive an additional $1000.

An increase in health insurance and premium is budgeted for an expected 3 percent increase in January.

Fowler said the maintenance  budget for special projects is budgeted at an additional $139,900. Last year most of the fund was used for a HVAC system at Powdersville Middle.

This year the funding is set for a HVAC unit at Wren High School.

Fowler said that the unit needs work but added that a new maintenance person at Wren has been able to get it to function better than it has in years.

He said a cooling tower will also need to be replaced at a cost of $40,000 to $50,000.

Operational supplies, communications and technology upgrades are budgeted at an additional $37,984.

Property and casualty insurance costs increased approximately $12,000, with additional square footage in the District.

Utilities, water, sewer, natural gas and electricity are budgeted at an additional $70,126 

“In Williamston, water alone went up twenty percent,” Dr. Fowler said.

The district will continue to update technology for MAP testing and hardware and software at $50,642.

Homebound funding is budgeted at $10,861 over last year.

Student supplies and materials fees will increase $2 per student and $1 per student for library books.

Fowler said the library fee will help replace history and science books which are needed in the libraries and budgeted at $16,000.

The budget includes $50,000 to fund after school programs.

Additional funding for the Career and Technology Center, based on the number of students attending, is budgeted at an additional $22,800. 

An allowance for teachers who travel between schools has increased due to gas prices and is budgeted at an additional $23,835.

Total expenditures are budgeted at $46,460,640.  With anticipated revenues of $46,332,643, the budget shows a deficit of $127,997.

Dr. Fowler said the budget is “a good budget and it is a tight budget.” He said no millage increase is required..

“With all that is included I feel this is an excellent budget.”

Dr. Fowler said the effects of the proposed one percent sales tax leaves  uncertainties with the budget.

“If we don’t get enough from it, we will have a short fall. You can predict property taxes but you can’t predict sales tax,” Dr. Fowler said.

Responding to a question by board member Joe Pack about the fund balance, Fowler said he expected it “should increase.”

District officials have been looking at the budget for several weeks and will present their porposed 2006/2007 budget to the County Board on June 6.

 

NeedToBreathe
Local influences contribute to brothers’ writing, performing

By David Meade

(From interview by Hayley Meade)

From growing up at a church camp in Possum Kingdom to recording a new CD in England and touring with TRAIN, brothers Bo and Bear Rinehart, are now playing the big time.

The Rineharts, with long time friends Seth Bolt and Joe Stillwell, make up a “new” band that is starting to get national attention, NeedToBreathe.

The Rinehart brothers were interviewed by The Journal prior to opening for Collective Soul and Rob Thomas at Freedom Weekend Aloft.

They claim Christian and southern rock have influenced their music which is seen as an alternative to the angry band music that dominates so much of today’s radio.

Early experiences living at a church camp run by their pastor dad in Southern Greenville County also influenced them. 

“It was great fun at the church camp. It was a rural area, and kids came from all over the state which was really cool,” Bear said. “Every kind of kid from around the state would come to the camp, so we were exposed to a lot of music, rap, country and rock. We grew up around a lot of music.”

He cited Tom Petty and others as early influences. 

“We were southern redneck kids and felt some association with southern music.” 

In their early teens, the brothers moved to Seneca where they met the other two members of the group. Bolt’s and Stillwell’s dads were also preachers. 

“We’ve known each other for a long time,” Bear said. 

Both of the Rineharts played high school football at Seneca. Bear was a standout wide receiver at Furman, where he formed NeedToBreathe with longtime friend and drummer  Stillwell.

Bo went to Clemson. Though he didn’t play football there, his athleticism led to a role in the 2003 film “Radio,” in which he served as a double for actor Riley Smith, the leading football player who was antagonistic toward Radio in the movie.

Rinehart wore Smith’s number in the football scenes. When Smith is seen running a touchdown or getting hit on the sideline, it was Bo.

“I was taking the hits and he was taking all the glory for it,” Bo said. 

Bo said that his outgoing personality and presence was enough for the director to take notice and put him in other scenes in the movie.

 “I’m a clown. On stage and in front of a camera, I’m a ham,” he said. 

He also portrayed a friend of the bad guy and was in a scene at the end of the movie with Cuba Gooding, Jr. where he was nice to “Radio.” 

Unfortunately, the scene was cut.

Having brothers in a band does create some tension, but both agreed that it fuels creativity.

Being together all the time creates conflicts, Bear said. “But it is easy for forgive and we are quick to forget.”

“It is part of what drives us, the competition.”

Bear said that if Bo writes a good song, he wants to write a good or better song. “One minute we’re screaming and the next we’re laughing,” Bo  said.

Their new CD, titled Daylight, is the first on a major label, but it is not their first experience at recording. Prior to signing with recording giant Atlantic records, the band recorded 3 EPs, or singles, selling as many as 15,000 copies on their own.

The EPs were also demos, Bear said, which were recorded in Bolt’s Plantation studio in Walhalla.

Most of the preproduction on the Daylight CD was done at the Plantation studio.

Daylight was recorded in England at Heliocentric, a famous studio owned by Elvis Costello. The studio includes vintage instruments from the 1940s and ’50s such as Costello’s old piano, and a sound board used by the legendary Led Zeppelin group, according to Bo.

The rural farm setting of the studio in England also contributed to the sound of the music on the CD.

“They are big conservationists and preservationists,” Bo said. “That really translated to our music.”

 “It was really a cool vibe,” Bo said. “It was a cool experience. It was something we never thought we could do.”

What did it take to get signed to a major label and be able to record a CD in England?

The brothers say they are asked that by their friends and other bands all the time. Their answer - Getting there was a long process and a lot of hard work. 

“We had to play anywhere and any event,” Bo said. “We met a lot of people.”

Both said they wanted pretty early on to play music professionally but it was not a decision that was just made. “Five or six years ago we were playing as many as 100 shows a year,” Bear said.

“We started setting goals and  eventually decided we could actually do this,” Bo said.

They shopped demos to certain labels that they thought would be a good fit for them.

They eventually got a manager in Nashville and were signed by Kim Stephens, who signed Collective Soul and Matchbox Twenty to Atlantic.

Though they do have a Christian background and their music is appeals to the Christian market, they consider themselves to be a “southern rock band” similar to Collective Soul and Matchbox Twenty.

“We wanted to be clear that we were signed to Atlantic first,” Bear said.

After being signed by Atlantic, they approached the record label about marketing to the Christian market.

“We grew up in church and are very familiar with the  market so it made sense but it was not our number one goal,” Bear said.

Both cited the influence of Collective Soul, a hard rocking band from Atlanta, with several hits including “Shine,” which was popular as a crossover from the rock to the Christian market.

“It was really cool to us to have sparked that idea, to make it (the CD) available to young kids, and have an influence on what they listen to,” Bear said.

They have a very strong local following, and with a new CD and tour, the band is expanding their audience.

They recently played several dates in the mid west with TRAIN, which they said offered them the opportunity to play “really ornate and large theaters.”

It also gave them the opportunity “to meet tons of people every night and to sell a lot of CDs to people,” Bear said.

“It was nice to have 15 guys helping move equipment,” Bo said.

They also found that being the “new” band on the road with the larger acts led to something they called chasing a bus tour.

The other bands have a tour bus with drivers and get to sleep while going from town to town, usually overnight. 

To get to the next show they often travel 4 or 5 hours, with one member of NeedToBreathe driving their van, while the others are trying to sleep. “We are in a van chasing the bus tour,” Bo said.

There is also press and radio. “It is a whole new world for us.  We have worked really hard,” Bear said. “There is way more to it than what we were doing before.”

The band did a short, but exciting set at FWA. 

According to their website, the songs of “Daylight” set NeedTo Breathe apart from many of the “angry at the world” bands they see around them, with an optimistic, encouraging message that suggests life is what you make it.

“We feel like you can change your life in a day,” Bear said, “At any time, at any point. Basic decisions that you make can affect your life completely. I think in many ways, that is the  theme of the record. Regardless of where you are in your situation, every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around.”

For more information, check them out on the web at www.needtobreathe.net.

Most candidate contributions not available before election

By Stan Welch

Voters interested in who is providing financial support to various candidates in the County Council races won’t have access to that information in time to help them decide who to vote for in the June 13 Republican primary.

A check by The Journal of the campaign disclosure forms on file at the Clerk of Court’s offices showed that few of the candidates have filed any reports at all, while one or two filed early reports.

For example, the Committee to Elect Bill Dees showed contributions on hand as of January 24 in the amount of $2403.21.Those funds reflected the remainder of some $2600 donated by Allied Waste, ($1000), Jim Swistock, a principal in the 1997 sale of the Big Creek landfill to Allied Waste, ($1000); Jim Longshore, ($250) who works for BP Barber Engineering; and Keith McLeod ($350) who works for McNair Law Firm in Columbia. The funds were also reported in a July 18, 2005 report, and, minus some minor campaigning expenses, remain available for use in this year’s race, in which he faces two challengers in the primary.

Ron Wilson, whose forms have been filed with the South Carolina Ethics Commission, although they are not yet back in the Clerk of Court’s office, has well over one hundred contributors, compared to Dees’ most recent filing which shows five contributors.

State law requires the itemizing of contributions of $100 or more. Wilson apparently itemized every contribution, no matter how small, since he had only 24 in excess of the $100 limit.

The third District Six candidate, Rick Freemantle, has filed no reports, because he has neither sought nor accepted any donations, according to an interview from several weeks ago.

In District Seven, incumbent Cindy Wilson has yet to file her disclosure report, which, like all candidates’ facing opposition in the primary, was due on Tuesday, May 30. Her opponent Julia Barnes filed a report back in March, which indicated some $625 in contributions, the bulk of which she provided herself. “Once you spend or raise over $500, you have to file a report,” said Barnes. “So I went ahead and filed that one because I knew I had to order some signs.” Barnes has yet to file her latest required report, but says she has received $1000 from Jim Swistock, and $500 from Marshall Carrithers, a local realtor.

A five day grace period makes June 5 the absolute deadline for reporting. However, it is virtually certain that the audit prepared by the Ethics Commission will not be available to the public before the June 13 primary.

An SCEC staffer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that some candidates, especially those with experience, know about the grace period and the time it takes to audit the reports and compile the results. “Some of them use that to avoid making their information available before the election,” said the staffer.

The Journal has filed a Freedom of Information Request to view the disclosure reports as soon as they are all received, rather than waiting for the prepared audit to be released.

Clardy teaching at Forest College

By Stan Welch

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy says he is flattered at all the interest in his personal life, but is less sure of the motives behind the interest.

Clardy says he has no trouble with explaining to people that he took a teaching job at Forest College in Anderson for two reasons. First, “The degree I am pursuing at Southern Wesleyan College is a degree in teaching, and this gave me the opportunity to actually teach. Dr. Julia Barnes ( the interim head of the college) was kind enough to ask me to teach this introduction to computers, and I am really enjoying it.”

Clardy, who as Mayor of Williamston, voted in recent months to rescind the salaries of both himself and the Town Council as they struggled to bring the town through its financial difficulties, says he is in the process of opening and expanding his restaurant on Main Street. “I took this job while in the process of reopening my restaurant. This is not a full time job. I was honored when Dr. Barnes asked me to teach here. It is an opportunity I hope to have again. Forest College is a fine school and one which serves its clients well. I’m proud to be a part of that.”

Dr. Barnes, who is nearing her term as interim head of the college, is currently running for the district seven County Council seat. She says Clardy is a natural in the classroom. “The students really respond well to his instruction. We have had a lot of positive comment on his class.”

Clardy says there have been complaints too, though not from the students. “Dr. Barnes is too professional to mention them, but there have been anonymous calls complaining that she had hired me. The fact that they wouldn’t identify themselves says a lot to me about their intentions.”

District Two County Councilwoman Gracie Floyd also teaches at the college, although she has taken this quarter off to “do her politicking” as Barnes says.

Barnes comments on pre-election process

By Stan Welch

 (Editor’s note:) In a recent conversation with District Seven County Council candidate Dr. Julia Barnes, a number of interesting issues came up. Since the context of the talk was that of a conversation, and not an interview, The Journal contacted Dr. Barnes a few days later and asked if she would be willing to revisit some of the highlights of that conversation. She graciously agreed, repeating and clarifying several of the points included below.

Dr. Barnes has based the thrust of her campaign on her belief that the relationship between incumbent Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and county administrator Joey Preston has become so bitter and acrimonious that the District is suffering because of it. While discussing that issue, she said that a possible scenario, which she originally described as “best case”, would involve Wilson’s defeat and Preston’s relocation to another job.

When asked to reconcile that statement with one made just days earlier at a public forum, in which she stated that she would vote to retain Preston as administrator, Barnes said, “I think that Mr. Preston has had some offers in the past for different jobs. It’s just a feeling, a woman’s instinct, but I think that he might be interested in a different job, if he didn’t think it would look like he was being run off if he took a different job. I mean he’s made his mark in Anderson County after almost ten years. I just think that if the perception wasn’t one that there is a hostile council, he might be more interested in some of those possibilities.”

Dr. Barnes also had some interesting things to say about the political process including the report that she has been followed and has received obscene and harassing telephone calls. She said that she has been contacted by SLED, apparently after someone posted a report on the Anderson Independent Mail’s website saying that she was seen being escorted inside Corbett McGee’s restaurant by county administrator Joey Preston following a political stump meeting at the Farmer’s Market in early May.

She denies the report, saying that she, her daughter and her husband Mike, who, like Preston, wears glasses and a mustache, ate dinner following the event then went home. “I don’t want them to make a federal case out of it. It was more stupid than creepy. All they had to do was come closer and they’d have seen who it was.”

“SLED contacted me, apparently after someone contacted them about it. I certainly didn’t call them, but they have been in touch.” She concedes that anyone in the area could have made the posting, not necessarily someone who was following her.

Still she says she has received the phone calls and heard reports of vandalism and damage to political signs and mailboxes across the county. 

“To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I’m cut out for this, if that’s how people are going to act. I can’t imagine what Cindy Wilson has had to put up with all these years, but it’s a shame. I really respect her for sticking to it.”

She says she also has problems with the newspaper supported website she’s been such a topic of. “The people who are blogging are so mean spirited sometimes. They say terrible things about Cindy, and about other candidates, including me. It just seems to me if they are going to have it on their website, there ought to be some standard of proof or something. They just write anything. The paper can say what they want, but it’s their website.”

Barnes said she’s not sure a forensic audit is necessary to settle questions about the county’s finances. “I’ve heard estimates as high as $200,000 for an audit that thorough. That’s an awful lot of money. Still, there’s  a  part of me that says if that’s what it takes to stop all the fighting and conflict in Anderson County so we can move on, it might not be the worst thing. I hate seeing the County so torn up like it is.”Julia

Gilstrap seeking reelection to Greenville County Council

By Stan Welch

 Judy Gilstrap is seeking reelection from District 26 to the Greenville County Council, and she’s not shy about saying why she thinks she deserves the job.

“I have worked very hard the last three and a half years, and have been granted the honor of serving as Vice Chairman for the Council. That position also makes me the chairman of the finance committee, and places me on the board of directors of the Greenville Area  Development Corporation, as well as the Matrix industrial park. I have sought to clean up the West Side and to bring jobs to the area, including the Piedmont area. Since I’ve been on Council, 2400 code violations have been processed in the West Side.”

Gilstrap points to her work on the finance committee, saying that the Council had produced a two year budget, added twenty-four new employees to the Sheriff’s Department and the detention center, as well as giving raises to every county employee. We are also building a $12 million addition to the detention center that we are paying for as we go. We have done all of that without a tax increase. I think that’s leadership.”

The County Council has adopted a “worst first” policy as part of their prescription for progress plan for bringing the county’s roads up to standards they should be at. “Some of the districts will see less paving money for a while as we bring the worst areas up, but we agree that this is the way to approach the problem.”

“It is one of Greenville County’s strengths that we have learned to create coalitions on various issues, instead of voting strict party lines, which was keeping us from accomplishing so many things I think I’ve helped in that process, as have many of the other members of council. Now we vote based on the issue we feel strongly about, instead of just the party affiliation.”

Gilstrap says economic development is the number one priority. “I have sought jobs for the West Side and the Piedmont area since day one on the Council. We have to have jobs, and more jobs.” She said that Gordon Food Services is currently preparing their new building in the Matrix industrial park. “I worked very hard with all those involved in getting the incentives in place to attract this fine company to the Matrix.”

Land use and planning are important issues for the County says Gilstrap. “There are areas in District 26 that aren’t zoned at this time, and if they are in the future, we want to be sure they are zoned properly, so it helps the area, and not hurt it.”

Still, if you work hard, you should have a place to play hard, so Gilstrap is trying to have a 200 acre site that contains a closed landfill brought into the recreation district’s park system. She is seeking an intergovernmental agreement with the Greenville Recreation District that would make that a reality. “There are several options for using that land. Studies show that former landfills are excellent for green spaces or soccer fields or other recreational uses. I would really like to see that site put to such a use,” said Gilstrap.

The site is near the old Woodmont High School, not far off of Highway 25.

Syringes found in garbage can

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated the following incidents:

PELZER

May 4 – L. E. Brock responded to 44 Goodrich Rd. where Nancy Garrett reported that someone had left a large bag of plastic syringes in her garbage can by the road. The syringes were collected by Brock and taken for disposal.

 May 4 – E. S. Russell received a report of a stolen license plate from a Honda Civic belonging to Brenda Kay Neely. The tag was SC#831LAR.

PIEDMONT

May 4 – J. M. Roberts responded to a report of assault and battery at 102 Piedmont Rd. where Chris Ayers said that Grady Bagwell had assaulted him and damaged Ayers’ truck. Ayers wife, Lisa, said she saw Bagwell push her husband and tear his shirt, then get in his vehicle and deliberately ram the truck, which she had parked across the gate to the business to keep Bagwell from leaving. Bagwell was arrested for assault and battery and malicious damage to property.

May 7- J. J. Jacobs was en route to a reported domestic dispute when he encountered Matthew Lee Wilson, WM, 19,6’1", 165 pounds, brn/brn, of 104 Wood Stream Way. He was arrested for public drunk and disorderly and taken to ACDC.

May 23 – R. D. Smith was contacted at the ACSO by Anthony Cantor, who reported the theft of his 2006 Craftsman riding mower and a seed broadcaster from his home at 1509 Hwy. 86. the equipment was valued at $1650.

May 23 – W.T. Cunningham responded to the Hardee’s restaurant at 904 Anderson Road, where Jason Evatt reported that someone had stolen his father’s 1991 blue Jeep while he was inside. The tag was SC#9973BX.

May 23 – J. L. Bergholm responded to Gateway Integrated Components at 125 Leader Dr., where Sherry Allison reported that someone had broken into the building and into several offices. They stole a Smith&Wesson .38 caliber handgun and a safe containing approximately $35,000 in cash and two Rolex watches valued at $7000 each. The safe was apparently dragged to the rear of the building and loaded into a vehicle.

May 24 – J.M. Roberts received a report of grand larceny from Mike Cantrell at Powdersville Motors who said that an auto hauler valued at $1800 was stolen from the lot.

 

 

 

 

 

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