Week of June 11, 2003
looking forward to challenges as towns MayorWest Pelzer
West Pelzer Town Council tabled the second reading of a proposed budget after questions arose from citizens at the regular meeting Tuesday.
Town Clerk Wanda Sutherland advised that budget copies were not ready for the council to review due to ongoing computer problems. Sutherland said that she has been manually transferring accounts payable to the general ledger because the computer system has not been transferring the information.
Incoming council member Terry Davis asked, How was the first reading done without the completion of the budget?
Sutherland said that the first reading was held on a projected but not complete budget. There is no way to know what will come in, she added.
Davis insisted that the council must have a copy to vote.
Council member Maida Kelly and incoming mayor Peggy Paxton reminded the council that the county has until July 31 to finalize reassessments which affect revenue figures.
After much discussion, the council voted to table the second reading of the budget until copies could be made available and a public hearing held. Officials then decided to schedule a public hearing for June 26 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.
The council approved the second reading of an ordinance calling for an election to be held to determine the form of government to be used by the town.
The council also discussed the possibility of a 1% hospitality tax on meals and beverages. Sutherland said she has been advised that the county is considering a 2% hospitality tax and that the tax is something the town should consider. The council voted unanimously to table the issue until more information could be obtained.
Responding to a citizen question about the status of the sewer project, Mayor Bill Alexander said that the proposal has been sent to Rural Development and that it is up to the engineers to put out bids and get started.
Alexander also reported that local Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) officials had inspected today and passed everything. DHEC officials from Columbia are to inspect on June 12 according to Alexander. Alexander also reported that the town had purchased a new pH probe due to variations in readings.
Alexander also reported that Anderson County Council had approved $10,000 for a 4 water line from Diane Street to Dendy Street. The funds will be available as soon as the project is completed and inspected by the county. Seventeen mobile home owners in the area will each pay a $100 connecting fee which will produce some additional revenue for the town according to Alexander.
A citizen expressed concerns about
mosquitoes in the town. Alexander said that he would call Anderson
County and ask them to spray. Council then voted to adjourn the meeting.
West Pelzer voters indicated that they are ready for a change in leadership as they came out on a rainy day to cast ballots for mayor and two council seats in the town election June 3.
Newcomer Peggy Paxton was chosen over her opponent Joe Turner to serve as the towns mayor beginning in July.
Paxton captured over 75% of the 194 votes cast to become the mayor of a town she has lived in for only six years. Unofficial results show that Paxton received 149 votes while her opponent veteran councilman Joe Turner received 45 votes.
Voters overwhelmingly returned Maida Kelly to a council position with 143 votes and ushered in political newcomer Terry Davis with 125 votes. Council candidate Linda Lozano received 61 votes, and former councilman Johnny Rogers received 41 votes.
Paxton along with Kelly and Davis will be sworn in at the July council meeting.
A surprised Paxton sees the voter turnout as an indication that people are ready for more involvement in the town.
She is already compiling a list of things to be done. She wants to understand all the issues surrounding the proposed sewer project for the town and be sure the town has done its part to move the grant project forward.
Paxton plans for a representative of the Town of West Pelzer, the town attorney, and consultant Rusty Burns to be on hand at the first council meeting to answer questions that anyone may have.
An accountant by profession, Paxton hopes to review the financial reports monthly to insure that citizens get the most for their money.
Paxton believes in full disclosure so that everyone knows exactly where the money is being spent.
Paxton sees herself as a team player who would consult with council about any decision to be made.
She emphasizes that the ordinance in process for a town election to determine the form of government is appropriate since that decision is totally up to the citizens of the town.
Paxton is excited and overwhelmed at the challenges ahead of her. Admitting that she has a lot to learn, she also plans to get training for her new job through the Institute of Government which maintains a satellite office in Greenville.
Williamston Police Lt. Danny Hart was officially terminated from employment with the town on Monday, according to Mayor Phillip Clardy.
Hart, a 20 year veteran of the Williamston Police Department, had been on suspension with pay since April 7.
The suspension coincided with an ultimatum and termination of former police Chief Richard Turner, however no specific reasons for either action have been made public by the Mayor.
Clardy said Tuesday he would not publicly discuss specifics of the situation leading to his decision to terminate Hart, citing it as a personnel matter for the Town.
The mayor did say that he and Williamstons new Police Chief Troy Martin met with Lt. Hart, at their request, last Friday.
Clardy said Martin was asked to be present to offer an objective perspective though he was not directly included in any discussion between himself and Hart about an incident which occurred prior to Hart being suspended.
Clardy did say that Council members were well informed of the facts concerning the suspension and eventual termination and they were well aware of his (the mayors) intended actions.
Clardy said that the time elapsed since Harts suspension was warranted for him to consider every doubt concerning the situation.
The final decision was also put off until a third party, the new police chief, was in place and available to look at the situation objectively, he said.
Clardy said the action to terminate Hart was also based upon recommendation of Chief Martin.
Hart said during the meeting with the mayor last Friday, he expressed a willingness to work with the administration and did ask the Mayor to consider allowing him to continue to work for the town.
I told him that I needed a job to support my family and that I didnt think I had done anything to get fired, Hart said.
Hart was promoted to sergeant after three years on the force. He served as sergeant for 12 years until he was named lieutenant, serving as second in command under former Chief Turner, for the last six years.
Concerning the firing of the former police chief Richard Turner, Clardy said the matter is over.
As far as Im concerned, it is a done deal, Clardy said. It would not do any good to have another meeting.
The Mayor also announced this week that Sgt. Brent Brooks has been promoted to lieutenant and Officer Zack Gregory has been promoted to sergeant.
Gregory was the School Resource Officer at Palmetto High and he will be replaced, by someone within the department if possible, according to Chief Martin.
Two patrol officers and two dispatchers have also recently been hired in the department, replacing those who have left, according to Mayor Clardy.
Clardy said he has not heard anything from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) concerning an investigation they are involved in and would not comment as to what they may be investigating.
SLED has confirmed that the agency has been involved in looking at a public official but would not confirm who or what the investigation includes.
Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said this week he has made no decision concerning a possible legal challenge to a petition recently certified by the Anderson County Election Board.
Clardy said he did meet with County Election Board Director Patsy Brown last week to discuss concerns he has with the petition which was presented to the Town Council June 2.
According to Clardy, he along with several citizens who had requested copies of the petition, had concerns about some signatures that were allowed.
There appeared to be some inconsistencies, Clardy said.
Clardy said he was told by Brown that it was not standard procedure to reconsider once a document has been certified by her department and that if he still had concerns the mayor could challenge it legally.
The Williamston election board presented the certified petition to Town Council last Monday with 320 verified signatures of registered voters indicating they want the question of changing the form of government in Williamston to be decided by a referendum vote.
According to the summary report provided the Anderson County Election Board along with the certified petition, of the 468 signatures obtained, 320 of the signatures were found to be valid.
Organizers needed to have 15 percent of the towns registered voters, or 302 valid signatures, for the petition to be certified and the request for an election to be valid.
Williamston Attorney Richard Thompson recommeded to Council to approve first reading on the election ordinance but not to set a date until it gets pre-clearance by the Justice Department.
Thompson said the 30 to 90 day requirement to hold the referendum would be on hold the justice department responds.
Upon pre-clearance by the Justice Department, Council will set an election date for a referendum to be held within 30 to 90 days to let the towns voters decide if they want to change the form of government.
Town Council had the option to call for an election to decide the question. Councilmembers indicated that they would support the change if the residents want it changed, but would rely on the referendum to make the decision.
Mayor Clardy, who opposes the change, said he would abide by citizens decision if a change is approved, but wants citizens to be informed on the decision.
Clardy said he wanted to educate the constituents. I intend to take advantage of the time to educate them on how it will affect our municipality. I support it as long as that decision is made of right and proper information, he said.
Clardy said he plans to have a representative of the Municipal Association and the Appalachian Council of Governments provide information and answer questions the public may have concerning the change.
If approved by referendum, the change in the form of government would be effective immediately, according to the towns attorney.
Thompson said if approved, the elected officials will serve out their terms but that there is a change of duties at that point.
Williamston is currently governed under the mayor-council form of government.
The Council form of government, which organizers of the petition drive are pushing for, designates legislative and administrative powers of the municipality are to be vested in the town council. Each member of council, including the mayor, has one vote.
The Town of Williamston is planning a Freedom Celebration on Saturday June 28 which will include a free fireworks show, a teen dance with a DJ, an old fashioned community cookout in Mineral Spring Park and a cruise-in at a local restaurant.
The fireworks show is being sponsored by the Town and the Williamston Fire Department and will be held in the vicinity of the ball fields located behind the Municipal Center as in past years, Clardy said.
The fireworks show will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m.
Clardy said that excellent response to the teen dance held last year and requests to have it again were his reason for including the dance in this years activities.
There will be a $2 admission charge for teens attending the dance which will help offset costs of providing the DJ, he said.
Clardy said town residents are also encouraged to plan to participate in a community cookout in the park prior to the fireworks display.
A cookout for town employees will also be held in conjunction with the event, the mayor said.
Another activity planned in conjunction with the fireworks display is a cruise-in sponsored by the Williamston Fire Department.
Williamston Fire Chief Steve Ellison said the department will sponsor the cruise-in which will begin at 6 p.m at McDonalds in Williamston.
The cruise-in will include a cash drawing for participants at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. and will offer a great view of the fireworks show.
McDonalds will offer a special on Coke floats from 7 to 9:30 p.m.. Live bluegrass music will be at the restaurant during the cruise-in and possibly in the park during the day, organizers said.
Williamston Police Department investigated the following incidents recently:
May 27 - Mike Biggs, 1 Tripp St., Williamston, reported a mailbox and post valued at $50 damaged at 9 Prinecrest Dr. D. A. Baker investigated.
May 29 - Keith Donald Bennefield, 30, 207 Mill St., Williamston, reported a 1998 Suzuki GSX 750 motorcycle valued at $3,500 stolen. D. W. Bryant investigated.
May 31 - Dean Wade Chadwick, 37, 4 W. 2nd. St., Williamston, was arrested for breach of peace after officers were dispatched four times to the address concerning a person yelling at neighbors. D. A. Baker. S. Turner investigated.
May 26 - Cheteca Chanel Williams, 22, 1505 Anderson Dr., Williamston, was arrested for unsafe equipment, operating an uninsured vehicle and violation of beginner permit after a 1991 Acura was observed on Woodfield Rd, with a damaged windshield. D. Munger investigated.
May 29 - Rebecca Lynn Eldredge, 31, 308 Cheddar Rd., Belton, was arrested for shoplifting and furnishing false information after attempting to leave a local store with items valued at $25. J. T. Motes investigated.
May 31 - Kelly Ceilene Jolanta, 29 Middleton Blvd., Apt. 29, reported damage to the front door of the apartment amounting to $10.
May 29 - Norwood McCulough, 72, 304 E. Carolina St., Williamston, reported a Zenith 19 inch TV valued at $150 taken from a carport. D. W. Bryant investigated.
May 30 - A 16-year-old juvenile was arrested for attempted robbery after a Williamston resident reported being approached from behind in Mineral Spring Park by a person with a black pistol. D. Munger, D. Alexander investigated.
May 22 - Ben Anderson Hester, 603 Tripp St., Williamston, reported a window valued at $40 damaged by a paint ball. S. W. Dooley investigated.
May 22 - Ryal Dennison Matthews, 18, 117 Williams Rd., Pelzer , Dwane Gerald Hoffman, 19, and Karl Lewis Sellner, 17, all of the same address, were issued a summons in connection with fireworks being shot in Mineral Spring Park. D. W. Alexander, D. Munger investigated.
May 19 - Chad Jonlee Ricks, 24, 502 Garren Rd., Belton was arrested for public disorderly conduct, simple possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance proximity of a school after officers responded to a call concerning an unknown person attempting to gain entry to a residence at 11 Shaw Dr., Williamston. Officers allegedly found a blue plastic bottle containng approximately 2.6 grams of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana inside his pants pocket and one orange prescription bottle containing a variety Schedule IV and V pills amounting totaling 103. D. Alexander, D. Munger investigated.
May 16 - Jose Jose Fernado Gaspar, 34, 820 Joe Black Rd., Williamston, was arrested for public disorderly conduct, Ernesto Felipe, 22, 10 Varnea Spring Rd., Greenville and Domingo Sabastian Gaspar, 33, 2745 Anderson Rd., Greenville, were arrested for open container in a vehicle after officers responded to West Main St. and Dacus St. D. Munger, D. Alexander investigated.
Anderson County Sherifffs Deputies investigated thefts from homes and businesses recently including the following incidents:
June 10 Als Auto Sales, 738 Hwy. 81 North, Piedmont, reported that someone broke the front window and took three wheels and rims, an amplifier and a CD player valued at $1800. J. R. Jones investigated.
June 9 Thomas Eric Rogers, 33, 3 Riverbreeze Rd., Greenville, reported that someone took a white 1990 F350 bucket truck valued at $13,000. M. D. Campbell investigated.
June 9 Christopher Dennis Browning, 27, 125 Kirsch Dr., Williamston, reported that someone stole a CD player valued at $355 from his vehicle. D. B. Anderson investigated.
June 9 Rhonda Gail McCranie, 39, 108 Indigo Dr., Williamston, reported a Sony Playstation II with controllers and games and a weedeater valued at $390 missing from her residence. C. Diaz investigated.
June 8 Jennifer Lee Robinson, 25, 3 Caper Street, Pelzer, reported a DVD player valued at $50 missing. M. D. Campbell investigated.
June 8 Jermoco Demondre Wilson, 19, 1913 Old Pelzer Rd., Piedmont, reported that someone took a 1962 beige Chevrolet Impala valued at $3000 from the Bi-Lo parking lot. A. T. Grasty investigated.
June 7 Janet R. Gambrell, 47, 108 Kirsch Dr., Williamston, reported that someone took a package containing a childrens china set valued at $27 out of her mailbox. D. M. Patten investigated.
June 6 Rick Darrell Morse, 50, 103 Blossom Branch Rd., Piedmont, reported that someone broke the glass on a side door to the garage. Missing were miscellaneous tools valued at $8,817. C. Diaz investigated.
June 6 Cheddar Feed and Seed, 13100 Hwy. 20, Belton, reported that someone pulled a fence post from the building, kicked in the front door, and took cash and food items valued at $178. C. Diaz investigated.
June 6 Andrea Chandler, 31, 148 New Hope Rd., Pelzer, reported that someone cut the lock on an outbuilding but no items were missing. D. M. Patten investigated.
June 5 H & H Auto Service, 308 Courtney St., Pelzer, reported that someone entered a 1990 Chevy C30 Rollback and drilled out the ignition switch to attempt to start the vehicle. They then entered a 1994 F450 Rollback valued at $20,000 and left the scene. D. B. Anderson investigated.
June 2 Letha Belt, 84, 17 Smith St., Pelzer, reported that someone entered her residence and stole medication valued at $200. D. B. Anderson investigated.
June 2 Wilson Automotive, Inc., 2920 Hwy. 8, Easley, reported a 6 X 10 utility trailer valued at $900 stolen from a storage lot. C. Diaz investigated.
June 1 Lucas John Nimela, 34, 4906 Hwy. 86, Easley, reported that someone took a pressure washer valued at $500 from a barn. D. Patten investigated.
May 31 Premier Construction, 3001 Hwy. 29N, Belton, reported that someone removed a stove valued at $600 from a house under construction. D. Mitchell investigated.
May 31 Clayton D. Alexander, 62, 130 Ragsdale Rd., Greenville, reported that someone stole a 6 X 10 utility trailer valued at $650. C. McBride investigated.
May 31 - Wallie Edwin Wyne, 49, 636 Hwy. 17, Piedmont, reported that someone broke into a barn and a camper trailer and stole a generator, a riding lawn mower, a table saw and two chain saws valued at $4040. J. R. Jones investigated.
May 30 Bobby Wooten, 59, 5940 Hwy. 81N, Williamston, reported that someone stole a paint pump valued at $5000 from his front yard. J. W. Lindsey investigated.
May 30 Gregory Lee Dutton, 37, 113 Crappie Dr., Williamston, reported that someone pried open a lock on a storage unit and stole a computer and accessories, a weight bench, and furniture valued at $1020. D. B. Anderson investigated.
May 30 Reita Allison Sims, 36, 100 Wigeon Way, Easley, reported that someone cut the locks off the doors to a cargo trailer and stole a red 2001 Honda XR50R motorcycle valued at $1049. D. B. Anderson investigated.
May 30 Ruby Young, 80, 311 Hwy. 17, Piedmont, reported a purse containing $3000 in cash missing. J. W. Lindsey investigated.
May 30 The Journal, 106 W. Main St., Williamston, reported that someone cut the lock off a newspaper box located at the Pelzer Post Office, Lebby St., Pelzer, and stole the coin box and contents valued at $122. D. B. Anderson investigated.
May 30 The Journal, 106 W. Main St., Williamston, reported that someone took an entire newspaper box and contents valued at $142 from Cross Country Exxon, Hwy. 8 & Hwy. 86 Easley. C. R. Mize investigated.
May 30 William Steven Rich, 114 Bell Isle Dr., Piedmont, reported that someone entered a home under construction and took lights and a smoke detector valued at $460. J. T. Owens investigated.
May 29 Anderson Automotive, 3500 Hwy. 29N, Belton, reported that someone took parts valued at $2800 from a 1995 Mazda Millenia. S. C. Weymouth investigated.
The thirty-eighth graduating class of Woodmont High School received diplomas May 29 at the Palmetto Exposition Center in Greenville.
Class President Adam Hunter gave the invocation. 2002-2003 Teacher of the Year, Christopher Chapman led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Principal Jeannie B. Monson welcomed guests.
Salutatorian Heather Traynham and Valedictorian Nikki George each delivered addresses on the topic From This Moment On.
Assistant Principal Tammy Greer introduced speaker Woodmont Athletic Director Stephen C. Candler, who spoke on the topic What in the Ham Sandwich are you thinking?
Special music was presented by the Woodmont High Chorus under the direction of Ann H. Couch.
Principal Monson, Assistant Principal William Roach and Assistant Principal Greer awarded diplomas.
Dr. William E. Harner, Superintendent of The School District of Greenville County conferred Diplomas to graduates.
Following the Alma Mater, student body president Kandi Gilliam gave the benediction.
Woodmont Honor Graduates included Cynthia Danielle Alexander, Kate Marie Allen, Rachel Renee Barnwell, Richard Andrew Bradley, Emilee Lauren Brock, Brookelyn Christine Davis, Megan Rene Embry, Kimberly Sue Finley, Jessica Brook Flanagan, Hyman Louis Fowler, Jr., Amber Nicloe Garrison, Nikki Rochele George and Kandi Nicole Gilliam.
Also Dana Ryan Green, Jonathan Kyle Hale, Laci Michelle Hardy, Mary Elizabeth Hastings, Adam David Hunter, Courtnie Sherese Johnson and Jarren Kyle Johnson.
Also Jonathan Campbell Joy, Matthew Scott Julian, Porche Denae Kirksey, Kenneth Lamar Lee, Ashley Marie Lindsey, Peter James Lynch, Brian Travis McDowell and Mary Beth McFalls.
Also Melissa Anne Meeks, Jenna Beth Morgan, Christi Lee Newlon, David Brett Odom, James Randall Pruitt, Joanie Alana Rampey, Johnathan David Rushing, Lindsey Rena Sabol, Amanda Lynn Seals, Breean Caroline Tate, Casey Michelle Tomberlin, Heather Nicole Traynham, Gabrielle Sara Turnage and Joshua Earl Wright.
Woodmont Junior Marshalls included Haley Marie Agnes, Mark Hudson Berry, Shannon Brooke Bishop, Davi Lily Dei, Tara N. Hawkins, Lauren Lindsay Hunnings and Andrea B. McGee.
Also Jessica Anne Mitchell, Benjamin Scott Mucci, Heather Marie Rampey, Emily Elizabeth Saxon, Lindsay Brett Southern and Sherri Leann Threlkeld.
The petition which requests a referendum to determine the form of government for Williamston is but one of many parts of a detailed election process.
The average voter would be surprised at the daily behind-the-scenes work that goes on to maintain the democratic process in Anderson County.
The Anderson County Registration and Elections Office and Director Patsy Brown are at the center of that process.
The mission of the office is to assure that the election process remains as it was designed to be a fair and impartial process for all who seek elected office and for those who exercise their right to vote.
The office is mandated by the state but funded by the county. Brown is a county employee who reports to the Anderson County Election Commission whose members are appointed by the state legislature and are responsible to the State Election Commission.
The county commissioners meet on the second Thursday of each quarter and receive a quarterly stipend which amounts to approximately $1500 a year.
Municipal election commissioners in turn are appointed for 6-year terms by each town council according to guidelines set up by the South Carolina Municipal Association and receive no compensation.
Municipal election commissioners may oversee each town election or they may choose to transfer that responsibility to the county office.
Brown and her 4-member staff oversee more than 300,000 voter applications and must produce a voter registration list from the 83,819 current active voters for each election in Anderson County.
Anyone who has ever registered to vote in Anderson County has an original application on file in the county office. Voters who have not voted in two general elections may find their application classified as inactive. Voting applications for convicted felons and deceased persons are also maintained and classified.
The staff certifies petitions by the time-consuming process of pulling each original application to verify the petition signature against an active voter registration.
Brown says that two employees spent two weeks verifying the recent Williamston petition.
Redistricting and precinct boundaries also have to be confirmed when creating a voting list. Browns office uses the computer technology of the Geographical Information Service (GIS) in conjunction with other county offices to maintain current map information.
Poll managers are trained through Browns office. Poll managers are paid $50 for election day plus $50 for training for a total of $100.
In contrast, poll watchers are appointed by each candidate or political party and are only observers on election day. Whenever an election occurs, Browns office is open to provide support and field questions about voter eligibility.
On the day of our visit, a poll manager called from Pelzer to verify that a street address was actually located in the town of Pelzer and that a voter was eligible to vote in that municipal election.
The county office also oversees the printing and compilation of ballots and inventories the equipment necessary for each election. Ballots from all elections are kept on file in the office for 22 months and then shredded.