Week of May 30,
On Tuesday, June 5, the citizens of West Pelzer will go to the polls in one of te more important elections in recent town history. The position of Mayor, as well as two Council seats, are up for grabs.Over the last several weeks, The Journal has published interviews with the various candidates. Reprinted below are brief excerpts from those interviews, highlighting the various candidates views on the issues facing the town.
Incumbent Mayor Peggy Paxton says she wants to continue her service to the town. She points to the recent improvement to the water lines and the efforts to address the towns wastewater issues as signs of her administrations efforts. Right now, were under a DHEC moratorium that wont let our town grow. We have to get these issues resolved. She also points to improved accounting practices in the Town Hall as an achievement. Our audits keep improving each year. We have worked very hard and have improved our performance in bookkeeping each year. I want to continue to help the town move forward.
Council veteran Maida Kelly has vacated her seat to seek the Mayors job. She sees the water and sewer issues as vital also. She points to her role in obtaining the grant funds being used to upgrade the water system. Fair rates are important, especially to our elderly. But we have to get these problems fixed so the town can grow. Kelly would favor annexation, but says she will not raise taxes. I would continue to pursue grant money for the town to use.
Bill Alexander, long time veteran of the Town Council and former mayor, is seeking a seat on the Council. He credits Mayor Paxton with accomplishing some good things for the town, and pledges to work with whoever is elected Mayor. The mayor needs to communicate more with the Council. Id like to see more harmony. Alexander also points to his past involvement with DHEC on water and sewer questions. We were promised just about every grant there was, but we never got a dime. He would favor annexation if people wanted it.
James Jimmy Jeanes has been a businessman in the area for more than forty years, as well as a life long resident. Like all the other candidates, he understands the importance of infrastructure in allowing the town to grow. We have to get the water and sewer taken care of. We also need to keep working to get water lines run to as many side streets as we can. He also sees traffic as a big problem and would add a light at the intersection of Main street and Holiday and Stewart Streets. We also need to work together better on the Council.
Randall Ledford is also seeking a Council seat. He sees growth and annexation as vital to the towns future. I would favor almost any approach that would keep the water and sewer rates down. Affordable infrastructure is a key. He would aggressively pursue state and federal grants to helpfinance improvements i the town. I think we really need to go after some funds. For example, two years ago, we passed up a chance at $200,000 in grant funds because the Council wouldnt spend less than $4000 in matching funds. So that money got away. Towns our size cant afford to let that happen.
Mike Moran is the fourth candidate seekig one of the two Council seats available. He thinks that the town should develop existing its existing properties before pursuing annexation. We have more than 100 lots and properties in the town limits that could be developed. Id like to see that done before we take on any other possible problems that can come with annexation. He also stated that while he is a strong supprter of proerty rights, he would like to see the town strengthen its authority to require a certain standard for the upkeep of properties. The town has a right to set a community standard and expect that it be met.
By Stan Welch
Progress on plans for a possible regional wastewater treatment plant and dispersal system has slowed since Williamston approached its two nearest neighbors about joining in a study of the proposal several weeks ago.
The Town, through its sewer consultants, Goldie & Associates, asked the Towns of Pelzer and West Pelzer to help fund a feasibility study to determine whether all three could transport wastewater to Williamstons treatment plant, and then on to a land use application disposal system.
All three Towns currently operate under consent orders issued by DHEC. All three are currently faced with serious wastewater problems. It is hoped that the cooperative effort being proposed can help them not only resolve those problems, but at a lower cost than other alternatives considered up until now.
Citing a long history of disappointments in dealing with DHEC, both Pelzer and West Pelzer asked for written assurances that DEHC would seriously entertain the regional proposal, before the Towns would agree to the funding, which would require each town to contribute $2917 towards the study.
That in turn sparked a request from DHEC for written assurances that Williamstons system, which is currently being upgraded, would be able to handle the increased flow, especially in light of Anderson Countys claim to reserved capacity in the amount of 300,000 gallons per day (GPD).
As far as I know, thats where we stand right now, said West Pelzer Mayor Peggy Paxton. We havent heard anything in the last few weeks. This idea has a lot of promise for us, but weve all seen this before. Thats why we wanted some assurance in the first place.
Pelzer Town Clerk Skip Watkins confirmed the lack of visible progress.When DHEC asked for the data about the capacity, I think it caused Goldie & Associates to have to start over in a sense. Not all the way back at square one or anything, but they had more work to do than I think they anticipated. We havent heard anything in several weeks. But you know, weve probably looked at thirty or forty possible solutions in the last ten years, so this is nothing new.
Efforts to reach Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy for comment were unsuccessful.
By Stan Welch
State Sen. Billy ODell says that significant differences between the budgets approved by the S.C. House of Representatives and the Senate may well lead to a continuing resolution which would require the state to continue to function at last years budget levels.
In fact, Senator ODell reported during a telephone interview with The Journal this week that the Senate has already passed such a resolution, in case the differences cant be worked out before the General Assembly goes into summer recess in two weeks.
According to Senator ODell, one major stumbling block is the Senates approval of a reduction of the sales tax on food. The House wants to reduce the state income tax, but I feel like most people, based on the annual incomes of their households, especially in my District, will realize a greater savings if the sales tax is reduced. It would go down by two cents this year, and in three more years, it would be gone altogether. Plus, thats a savings that shows up in the family account every week, and not just in April.
The General Assemblys efforts to reorganize and reform the South Carolina Department of Transportation are also causing difficulty in addressing the budget.We in the Senate simply dont see why that issue should be tied to the budget, as the House version would do. Neither should workmens compensation reform be a budget issue. Those issues are very important, but they should be addressed separately from budget considerations. I believe the Senate will lock down on that issue.
Senator ODell stated that a lions share of the states new revenues, fed by increased employment and economic development efforts, will go to education. The exact amount of new money is a little hard to pinpoint, but a billion dollars is generally accepted at this stage. Of that, education will get approximately 550 million dollars, while health care will also consume a fair amount. But those are ongoing issues that we always have to deal with.
Senator ODell anticipates that the states competitive grant program, designed to reduce pork barrel spending, should at least remain at last years funding levels. Several area municipalities benefited from that program last year, said Sen. ODell. As to the pork barrel spending, I dont know if the program has helped or not. House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Copper and I worked together to get $160,000 in grants money to be used in improving and preserving the Mineral Springs Park in Williamston, for example. That is a very historic site in the Upstate and certainly deserving of attention. But people fuss about the pork in the budget. Let me tell you, Ill agree to a level playing field if Charleston and Columbia and Greenville will agree to it, but thats not how it goes. That hundred and sixty thousand was a drop in the bucket to what they get. They all want us smaller areas to make do, while they get their fill.
I think Rep. Cooper and Sen. Leatherman have done a great job on putting hteir budget versions together, but each has to serve his own side of the aisle. I think we can get these differences worked out, and hopefully within the next couple of weeks. The House says they are prepared to work all summer, but I have a business to run as well. This shouldnt take all summer, if folks will sit down and work it out together.
ACSO Deputy T. L. Chapman responded to 132 Botany Slopes Rd. in Piedmont, where Claude Jester, 69, reported that his neighbor, Pete Godshalk, of 128 Botany Slopes Rd., had threatened Jester and his wife with a handgun. Godshalk, WM, 45, 61, 200 pounds, brn/brn had pointed the gun at Jester and threatened to kill him. His wife ran to the house and called 911. Chapman arrived and, after disarming him, spoke with Godshalk, who stated he knew he had done wrong, but he was mad. He also said that he takes lots of medications and is very paranoid, to the point of believing that the fire alarm is a signal to the people of the town to meet at the fire department to talk about him.
May 21 M. Voigt responded to 1046 Brown Rd. where James Green stated that someone had broken into his storage building, and stole an air compressor and a battery charger valued at a total of $450.
May 21 D.W. Davis and S. Proner were dispatched to the intersection of Palmetto and Hardwood Rds., where they found Richard Williamson, WM, 25, 510, 150 pounds, brn/brn. Williams said he was on the way home from a friends house and had fallen asleep in the ditch. He was disoriented and unstable on his feet and was arrested and transported to ACDC on a charge of public disorderly conduct.
May 21 T. L. Chapman was dispatched to 126 D Childers Dr. where Billy Reynolds reported the theft of approximately $2600 worth of jewelry and electronics from his residence.
May 21 W.E. Gregory responded to 125 Hollow Dr., where a truck belonging to Shirleys Iron Works, in Greenville, was located. David Miracle, of that address, reported finding the truck and calling the iron works, where they confirmed the truck to be stolen.
May 21 M. Voigt responded to 980 Beaverdam Rd. where Ashley Sargent reported that her storage unit had been broken into and some items stolen.
By Stan Welch
As usual, memories of my Dad occupied center stage during my Memorial Day weekend. Never far from my thoughts, his presence is inescapable on this weekend when we honor those who walked smiling into the jaws of the greatest war machines of their time, the German and Japanese armies.
It is easy to forget today just how ill prepared this nation was for war when the first bombs fell on Pearl Harbor. Still war weary from World War I, the nation had allowed its military muscle to weaken and turn flabby. In fact, the nations ability to crank up production of war materiel, including ships, planes, tanks and other weapons was as big a part of the story of the war as the actual fighting that went on.
Victory gardens were planted across America to provide food for those at home so that every bit of food and supplies possible could be poured into the war effort. Gasoline, sugar, coffee, countless items that literally cram the shelves of todays supermarkets, were scarce and rationed out by use of books of ration tickets during the war.
My Dad, like millions of other young and not so young American men and women, enlisted within weeks of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. He was eventually sent to Attu, one of the larger islands in the Aleutian chain that spills south from the Alaskan mainland like a loose thread from a shirttail.
For many years, I didnt realize the true nature of the war in the Aleutians. I always thought of Japanese occupied islands as being tropical islands covered with thick brush and palm trees. You know, the kind John Wayne was always invading. But the Japanese occupation of the Aleutians was part and parcel of their Pacific strategy, and the fighting on Attu and other nearby islands was fierce and bloody.
My Dad, known as Pee Wee for his whole life, and for good reason, was the tail gunner on a PBY bomber. He got the job because, as he told me later, he was the only one who could squeeze into the claustrophobic turret where the machine guns were mounted. His protests to the gunnery officer that he had no idea how to fire the guns were squelched by the response that he would figure it out the first time a Japanese Zero dived at the bomber. Dad said he did indeed figure it out, and under just such circumstances.
One clue as to the nature of Dads service on Attu was the fact that for years after the war, it was very unhealthy to wake my father by touching him. I did so once when I was about seven or eight and promptly found myself sitting on the floor across the room. Only years later did I learn that Attu was so hotly contested that Japanese soldiers were sometimes found and killed scrounging in the trash cans on the American base. They had been driven up into the mountains, and the winter conditions and lack of supplies led them to take enormous risks in an effort to get food.
My mother tells the story of how she and her family scrounged and scrimped and saved ration tickets for weeks to buy a box of Hershey chocolate bars to send Dad in Alaska. About the third time they managed this tremendous gesture of love and support, Dad wrote them to tell them the reason they had such a hard time getting candy bars was that the military already had first dibs on those. He had Hersheys bars coming out his ears. He wanted home cooking. Mom says she and her mother would fry chicken, vacuum seal it in canning jars, and send it to Dad. He would bury the jars in the ever present snow and eat what he wanted, while using the rest as high powered bargaining chips.
My Dad never provided much detail about his time over there. In fact, I was twelve or thirteen before I heard the stories I have recounted here. But as to the real war, the one that left Dad a man committed to reasoning and compromise as a way of settling problems, was seldom if ever mentioned in our home. I suspect that is also the case in the homes of our current warriors who have returned home to their families from the heat and horror of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Seems to me thats why these brave men and women go to war, so their families and countrymen wont have war come to them. Thank you is hardly adequate, but it is the best we can do.