News Archive

Week of June 9, 2004

Spartanburg Solicitor’s office reviewing SLED reportWilliamston related
Williamston Council hears questions from citizens group
ACE Hardware store has long history in area
Swindler takes money from area home
Cooper, Wilson capture nominations in primary
Brady selected to North South All Star
Woodmont ceremony honors Class of 2004
Gray Drive Bridge closed for 13 years

Spartanburg Solicitor’s office reviewing Williamston related SLED report

The State Law Enforcement Division has confirmed a followup report on a Williamston related investigation has been completed and sent back to Spartanburg-based 7th Circuit Solicitor Trey Gowdy’s office.

SLED spokesperson Kathryn Richardson said Monday that a SLED report was recently sent back to Gowdy’s office for review.

Gowdy’s office also confirmed this week that a SLED report has been returned to the office for review.

Assistant Solicitor Don Willingham said the office would “look at it this week,” and that it is a “pending investigation.”

Willingham said the SLED report involves an audio tape “and other allegations,” but would not elaborate on what the other allegations involved.

In February, Gowdy told The Journal that his office began reviewing a several-hundred page SLED report in January, which details events as recent as 2002.

At that time he said his office had reviewed the SLED report and that there were questions that needed additional followup by SLED.

“What we have done so far is reviewed all of SLED’s investigation. We have some additional questions which is typical in a case like this. We will suggest potential avenues of investigation and once that part of the investigation is over, we’ll be in a position to say whether a criminal act has been committed and if there is enough evidence,” Gowdy said in February.

At that time, Gowdy said the followup would probably be completed around April.

No additional information concerning the report or the focus of the investigation has been released by SLED or the solicitor’s office.

In February, Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said that he had no idea what the investigation was about and could not comment on it if he did.

Clardy said in September 2003 that he had sent a tape to the FBI, the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the State Attorney General’s Office but declined to comment on the contents of the tape.

Williamston Council hears questions from citizens group

Williamston Town Council heard questions from several Williamston citizens during their regular monthly meeting Monday.

Following a brief agenda “work session” Council began the official meeting at 6 p.m. by placing a memorial wreath for former President Ronald Reagan in front of the town’s national flag.

Upon returning to Council chambers, Council heard a request by Attorney James M. Cox for the town to  relinquish any interest it may have on property on Williams Street that was formerly used as a library.

According to Cox, the Town acquired the property from Dr. Dwight H. Smith in 1966 to be used for a library. The building has since been used by the AA group and the senior citizens group.

According to Cox, the property, which was deeded to Grace United Methodist Church, will return to the original owner to be placed into a trust to establish a permanent place for AA and senior citizens to meet.

Maintenance and utilities, which have been paid by the Town, will be paid by Smith until the property is placed in the permanent trust, Cox said.

The request was accepted as information.

Gary Bannister, on behalf of an organization called the Williamston Taxpayers Relief Committee, requested Council to allow citizens to ask several questions during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Mayor Clardy said citizens may make comments but not ask questions during the forum.

Bannister said he wanted to make the comments in a public session but expected no immediate answers.

“The reason and purpose of public comments is to allow information to be presented to Council pertaining to the town. Questions may be asked under FOI where it can be appropriately answered,” Clardy said. “Questions can’t be posed to Council.”

Clardy deferred to the Town Attorney Jimmy King, who replied that council can entertain comments which he said can be in the form of questions or comments, but it is not a question and answer forum. However, he did say council can make a decision to allow questions.

Acting upon a motion by Councilman Wade Pepper, Council voted 4-1, with the mayor opposed, to allow members of the group to present comments.

Ken Marshall asked about Town insurance payments being behind; the status of the $150,000 tax anticipation note; credit cards issued by the town; and he commented on the number of town employees going from 41 to 60.

Robert Vaughn commented on city vehicles being driven more than 10 miles to and from work, which he said he was told under a FOI request, was the limit on miles allowed by employees allowed to drive vehicle home. He also asked about the status of the reassessment windfall of $100,000 which he said was supposed to be placed into a special account until the town decided on what to do with it.

Bannister asked about a campaign promise by Clardy to lower taxes and water bills; if Williamston finances were in good condition and if Boyd Greene was still employed by the town.

Billy Ray Ward, requested help with speeding on South Hamilton St.

In other business, Council unanimously approved a request by Wanda Lark of the Fountain of Life Pentecostal Church to use the park amphitheatre for a special patriotic presentation on July 11.

After some discussion, Council unanimously approved the sale of three vehicles. Only one bid notice was received. Larry Davenport bid $100 each on the two 1988 Crown Victoria vehicles and $25 for a Grand Am, for a total of $225. The vehicles have been advertised for sale three times, first with a minimum bid, then a lowered bid then to the highest bidder.

Clardy also told Council that the town has entered into a lawsuit with Anderson County to have CSX remove and reconstruct the Gray Drive bridge.

Clardy also stated that the town is looking at insurance alternatives after learning of an expected 9% increase this year.

Clardy told Council the town has the option to either pass costs on to employees or raise revenues (taxes). Clardy said he has  asked the clerk and treasurer to look into options.

“The cost of employees is always the greatest cost. Salaries are always your biggest budget item,” Clardy said.

Council unanimously approved a change in the policy and procedures manual acknowledging  the manual is not a contract with employee. The new wording will go into effect July 1.

Council also approved a revision to bring the town’s impounded animals ordinance in line with procedures at the Anderson County Animal Shelter. The town’s ordinance states that animals will be held for seven days. The shelter has a policy stating that animals that are aggressive may have to be put down, according to the Mayor.

Clardy also told Council the town plans to sponsor the Freedom Celebration on July 2 to include special activities and fireworks.

The next meeting of Town Council will be held on Monday July 12.

ACE Hardware store has long history in area

Although Ace Hardware and Rental One just held a grand opening, the business is one of Williamston’s oldest continually operating businesses.

Though it has operated under different names through the years, it remains a family operated business serving area residents.

Formerly True Value, the business recently joined the Ace Hardware program which will allow them to better serve their customers in the Williamston, Pelzer and Piedmont area, according to owner Jim Simpson.

The grand re-opening included four days of giveaways, specials and special activities including a board cutting last Thursday.

In addition to a complete line of Ace hardware and paint, the business offers commercial and industrial supplies.

The business is one of the oldest in the area and is a historic part of the Williamston business community.

The business had its beginnings in the area when J. L. Simpson operated the Pelzer Oil Mill from 1911until 1924.

Simpson brought his family to the town of Williamston in 1924 and with the help of two partners, began operating a cotton gin and lumber company.  The business was incorporated in December 1925 as The Williamston Gin and Lumber Co.

In 1929, the “Great Depression” hit, and Simpson’s partners deserted the operation, leaving him to face the creditors alone.

Simpson weathered the storm and the company began to grow and prosper as it supplied local residents and farmers with goods and services.

J. L. Simpson had three sons: James Ligon, Jr., Maynard and Mike. All of the sons graduated from Clemson in engineering and served overseas in World War II.

The two older sons left the family business to pursue careers as engineers. The younger, Mike, returned to join his father.

In 1952, Mike moved the company from the original location on rented Southern Railway property to a new and enlarged facility on Simpson property.

He later changed the name of the company to the Williamston Lumber Co., Inc. to reflect the elimination of the cotton gin operation, which closed due to the decline in cotton production in the area during the mid-1950s.

For the next decade, the direction of the company moved more into the building  material and supply business as Mike assumed control of the growing business.

J. L. Simpson died in 1963.

Mike began a construction branch of the business which included building houses and churches and industrial remodeling.

Mike’s wife Helen, who already was active in the family business, stepped in at his death in 1966 (at age 41) and assumed full responsibility of operating the business.

Mike and Helen had one child, Jim, who worked after school and on weekends, helping his mother in the businesses. Helen continued to operated the business while Jim attended Clemson from 1968-1972.

During this time, Helen and Jim decided to join a buying group of independent hardware store owners, which would later become known as True Value.

The decision changed the direction of the business from lumber and building materials to a more complete hardware and home improvement center.

In the early 1970s, the name of the business was changed to the Williamston Home Center, Inc. to better reflect the broader mix of merchandise.

Upon graduating Clemson in 1972, Jim returned the third generation of Simpsons to serve the area.

After Jim became president of the company in 1974, the sales floor was remodeled and more than doubled in size , the construction  business was started again and a second store opened in Belton in 1983.

The company began its largest venture in 1988 with plans to develop a complete shopping center in downtown Williamston.

While other towns were seeing grocery and other retail stores moving out of town, Town Squre Center featured Williamston’s largest retailers in a downtown shopping center setting which remains unique today.

In addition to an expanded True Value Hardware, the new center opened with a Winn Dixie Marketplace store which relocated from the outskirts of town, Eckerds Drug Store, a Little Caesars Pizza location and a movie rental store. The new center also brought a McDonald’s restaurant to downtown and enticed B. C. Moores to relocate from their longtime West Main location into the new center.

Recently, Simpson changed the store to feature the Ace Hardware brand allowing the local store tremendous buying power to compete effectively in a changing competitive environment.

At the grand reopening Thursday, Simpson said “Customers now get the best of both worlds. A large national chain with tremendous buying power but at the same time, a locally owned store that offers that personal touch of convenience and service  the big chain stores just don’t offer.”

“We believe this latest move, to become an Ace Hardware Store, will be the most positive and effective change we have ever made.”

Ace Hardware is located in Town Square Shopping Center in downtown Williamston. For more information call 847-9669.

Swindler takes money from area home

Williamston Police officers investigated an incident in which a man posed as a utility worker to gain entrance to a home and then took money from the unsuspecting owner.

June 7 - Hilda LeCroy, 79, 14 Edgewood Drive, Williamston reported a man who said he was with the power company told her he needed to check her outlets due to a fire. After checking various outlets, he left the house. When she checked she realized he had taken a black leather wallet with a $10 bill and a withdrawal envelope with a $20 bill. R. Patton investigated.

June 5 - Joseph Edward Bryant, 26, 31 Middleton Blvd., Apts., Williamston was arrested for improper vehicle license and driving under suspension 2nd offense, after a vehicle was observed on Greenville Dr., J. L. Barnes investigated.

June 4 - Tammy Michelle Spear, 36, 16 Glenwood Ave., Williamston was arrested for public disorderly conduct after being observed at the corner of Academy St. and Mahaffey St. Dr. J. L. Barnes investigated.

June 4 - A. B. Hair, 115 Syracuse Street, Easley, reported leaving a camera valued at $600 at a reunion at the Municipal Center. B. Lewis investigated.

June 5 - Reba Lipscumb, 60, 121 Shorebrook Dr., Williamston reported a paddle boat valued at $300 missing from her back yard. B. Lewis investigated.

June 1 - Lisa Allen, 33, 108 Payne Dr., reported a canoe valued at $1,300 taken from 500 Williams St., Williamston. B. Lewis investigated.

June 2 - Marion K. Williams, 43, Eye Care Center, 3 Oakwood Ct., Williamston reported equipment valued at $2,300 removed form the business. Sgt. D. Munger investigated.

June 1 - Patsy Land, 318 South Hamilton St., Williamston, reported a red Yernuf go-kart valued at $900 removed from the property. Sgt. D. Munger investigated.

Cooper, Wilson capture nominations in primary

The field of candidates for elected offices has narrowed considerably after unofficial results from local primaries were released late Tuesday.

Voters gave a nod to incumbent Cindy Wilson for the local seat on the Anderson County Council after she overcame a challenge from Bob Austin in the Republican primary. Wilson received over 55% of votes cast with a total of 1,438 votes in her corner. Wilson’s campaign focused on greater fiscal accountability, spending cuts and debt reduction.

Challenging Wilson for the second time for the council seat, Austin proposed that his business expertise and civic involvement gave him an edge in dealing with county finances and local officials. Austin captured almost 45% of the votes cast which amounted to 1,169 votes.

Wilson carried all precincts in her district except four. Austin carried Hammond School, Piercetown, West Pelzer and Williamston and the absentee ballot vote. The Hopewell precinct was split, with eaach candidate receiving 138 votes.

Facing no opposition from Democrats in the November election, Wilson will return to her District 7 seat on the council.

The race for the State House of Representatives seat for District 10 saw incumbent Dan Cooper soundly defeat challenger Jack King in the Republican primary. A 14-year veteran in the state house, Cooper emphasized the benefits of his experience and seniority in office in meeting the needs of his constituents.

King, a veteran educator and assistant principal at Wren High School, focused on decreased state funding to schools and rising property taxes as the reason for his run for office.

Cooper carried all 13 precincts in the District and garnered 2,667 votes to capture the Republican nomination while 1,024 voters gave a nod to King.

Cooper faces no opposition in the November election from a Democratic candidate.

The busy race for Anderson County sheriff will continue with a runoff election in the Republican primary between David Crenshaw and John Skipper. Crenshaw captured 9,339 votes - over 49% of votes cast. Skipper received 7,470 votes from county voters – almost 40% of votes cast. Greg Williamson who received 1,970 votes is out of the race.

A close race for the Democratic nomination saw political newcomer Bob Appell capture the bid with 1,473 votes – over 52% of the votes cast. Challenger Brad McGuire was close behind with 1,342 votes – over 47% of the votes cast. Appell will face the winner of the runoff election between Crenshaw and Skipper in November.

The 10th District Solicitor’s office will take on new leadership after voters cast their ballots in a close race in the Republican primary for Chrissy Adams. Adams received a total of 12, 258 votes compared to 11, 994 votes for incumbent Druanne White.

Anderson County voters gave the nod to White to return to office, but it was not enough to offset the support her opponent received from Oconee County voters. White received 9,897 votes in Anderson County while Adams received 8,465. Adams received 3,793 votes in Oconee County compared to White’s 2,097 votes.

The field of six candidates for the U. S. Senate seat in the Republican primary has been narrowed to a runoff election between David Beasley and Jim DeMint. Thomas Ravenel, Mark McBride, Charlie Condon, and Orly Benny Davis will bow out of the race. The winner of the Republican runoff will face Inez Tenenbaum who received the Democratic nomination.

All runoff elections will be held June 22. 

Brady selected to North South All Star

Former Palmetto High baseball standout Tyler  Brady continues to shine on the field in American Legion baseball and will appear in the North-South All Star game this weekend  at Coastal Carolina.

Brady will play on the North AA team and will have Wren’s Ben Hines as a teammate. Head Coach for the combined 2A/3A team is Scott McCleod of Chapin.

Brady leads the Post 51 Legion team with a .600 batting average and has an .820 on base percentage.

Other recognitions include being named All State, Conference Player of the Year, Region Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player for the Palmetto High Varsity Baseball Team.

His senior year statistics include a .596 batting average for the year, .817 on base percentage; 17 stolen bases out of 20 attempts; and he had a defensive fielding average of .975 with only two errors.

Brady was selected to participate as an outfielder with the Baseball Factory All-American Dream Team.

Brady is the son of Don and Nita Brady of Williamston.

Woodmont ceremony honors Class of 2004

The Class of 2004 from Woodmont High School observed commencement exercises June 3 at the Palmetto Exposition Center in Greenville.

Woodmont High seniors were led by valedictorian Jessica Mitchell and salutatorian Emily Saxon, and each delivered an address during the ceremony.

Commencement exercises opened with an invocation given by Ashley Creamer, class president. Rachel Reed, who was 2003-04 Teacher of the Year, led the pledge of allegiance. Welcoming remarks and the presentation of the Service Award were given by Harold Batson, principal.

Retiring faculty member Martha Kennedy introduced Stephen Candler, guest speaker and retiring faculty member. The Woodmont High Chorus directed by Ann Couch followed the speech by singing “You Raise Me Up.”

Diplomas were awarded by Batson and assistant principals Bradley Grifith and Tammy Greer. Dr. Scarlette Owens, assistant superintendent, conferred the diplomas.

Ceremonies concluded with the singing of the “Alma Mater” and a benediction by Bobby Jencks, student body president.

Honor graduates included: Haley Marie Agnes, Nicole Rae Bailey, Amber Nichole Baker, Mark Hudson Berry, Shannon Brooke Bishop, James Donovan Burdge, Brandon Joel Candler, William Brandon Coleman, Susan Diane Cothran, Angela Marie Cox, Stephanie Summer Crawford, Meredith Lindsay Dabney, and Davi Lily Dei.

Also, Benita Dianne Garrison, Barbara Ann Hamilton, Tara Nicole Hawkins, Ronald Hoffman III, James Matthew Houston, Lauren Lindsay Hunnings, Bobby Wayne Jencks, and Jenna Michelle Kellett.

Also, Knia Shuntaria Mansell, Andrea Brooke McGee, Jessica Anne Mitchell, John Derek Mizell, Benjamin Scott Mucci, Scott Tilman Nicholson, Kellie Melissa Pittman, and Larry Eugene Pruitt, Jr.

Also, Emily Elizabeth Saxon, Lindsay Brett Southern, Brittany Dawn Stephens, Dale Allen Stiefel, Rakendra Shun’ta Thomas, Sherri Leann Threlkeld, Cedric Antonio Wilson, and Rodricus Savaray Young.

Junior marshals included: Jennie Elizabeth Dempsey, Joni Elizabeth Dickerson, Lauren Michelle Haloulos, Adam Nicholas Kelley, Jasmine Cirtonya Kirksey, Tiffany Dianne Marler, Joshua Adam Neaves, Brentley Adam Owens, Sarah Elizabeth Perkins, Jessica Noel Stephenson, Amber Michelle Thompson, and Rachel Ann Varda.

Gray Drive Bridge closed for 13 years

For Williamston resident Pamela Owens and others, the effort to have the Gray Drive bridge over the CSX railroad tracks reopened has been an eleven year project.

While numerous officials on the local and state level have become involved, her grassroots efforts as a concerned citizen continue to refocus attention on the project.

Owens became involved in having the bridge reopened shortly after the wooden structure  was closed to traffic in 1991. Ironically, she was also involved in having the bridge closed.

Owens said that she went to local officials about the safety of the bridge after her son showed her a hole that had developed in the structure.

She said that County officials evaluated the situation and told her it would be open within a year. Thirteen years later, the bridge remains closed to traffic.

Through the years, Owens has submitted numerous petitions to officials on all levels of government to help move the project along.

Owens said she submitted petitions in 1992, 1998, 2001 and 2003 with as many as 380 names in favor of having the bridge fixed or replaced.

Owens said she didn’t go to all houses in the area, but went to persons who had a cause for concern for seeing the bridge replaced.

“We went to anybody who had a need to use the bridge,” Owens said.

The petitions were sent to Strom Thurmond, who was still in  Washington at the time, Sen. Billy O’Dell and others on the state level, the mayor and county.

“We sent them to anybody who could help,” Owens said.

Owens was personally present for several meetings over the years with CSX officials, including one in 2000 held at the State House in Columbia.

Owens said that she and Darlene Smith, who has also been involved in the effort, came away from that meeting feeling positive.

“We left with a good feeling. Several representatives told us you could get grants for this type project,” she said.

Owens said the bridge was originally built in 1928 and CSX has a contractual responsibility to “Maintain and keep the bridge, which it never did.”

At some point, the bridge was blacktopped by the County, according to Owens.

Owens did say that there are residents on the other side of Gray Drive, which is in the county, who do not want the bridge reopened.

They have stated that the street, which is now a dead end, is safer with less traffic.

However, those wanting it reopened cite not only convenience but safety as a primary reason for having the bridge reopened.

Owens said situations such as a fire or medical emergency in which a fire truck, ambulance or other vehicle may have to use the bridge to get to either  side.

“There are lots of issues that need taking care of,” Owens stated.

She also points out that though one side of the bridge is in Williamston city limits and the other in the County, that she and her neighbors who are Williamston residents also pay county taxes and should have as much say as the  non-Williamston residents. “We should have a say. We are being double taxed.”

Owens also points out that residents on the Williamston side of the bridge are forced to cross the same railroad tracks that the bridge would take them over if it was reopened.

Williamston Town Council recently approved a resolution authorizing the town to use legal means, if necessary, to get the Gray Drive Bridge repaired or replaced.

 According to those involved in the discussions, CSX officials have admitted they are responsible for the repair or replacement of the bridge to the pre-existing state.

Anderson County and the Town of Williamston have sued CSX Transportation to repair the bridge.

The suit filed May 24, states that the railroad company constructed the bridge on Gray Drive, which existed prior to the construction of the bridge to provide a crossing over the tracks.

It also states that the railroad company contracted to construct the necessary approaches to connect the bridge  with the street together with all necessary abutments for the bridge and to maintain the bridge abutments and approaches.

The suit also states that the company has failed to maintain or repair the bridge for an unreasonablly long period of time and that the company should be required to remove the old bridge and reconstruct the Gray Drive Bridge to existing applicable building standard and codes, at its sole expense.










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