News Archive

(2505) Week of June 22, 2005

Week of June 22, 2005

Cooper elected chairman of Ways and Means Committee
Salkehatchie volunteers working on local homes
Free water deal topic of special meeting
Winn Dixie to close local store locations
Piedmont street dance festival to benefit PERC
Piedmont approves budget, look at bids
July Jubilee to feature free concert
Williamston planning freedom celebration
Towns plan joint Pre-4th Celebration
Parents out on bond following meth charge
Sign up now for Rai$ing Race
Waffle House robbed
Pro Wrestling show to benefit Crimestoppers
Compromizes lead to budget approval
Wilson’s agenda request on sewer problems ignored

Cooper elected chairman of Ways and Means Committee

Members of  the Anderson Legislative Delegation will lead two of the largest and most influential committees in the South Carolina House of Representatives during the 2005/2006 session.

House District 10 Representative Dan Cooper (R) of Piedmont, was recently elected to chair the House Ways and Means Committee, the representative committee that oversees the budget and other financial issues for the State of South Carolina.

“It’s a big responsiblility,” Cooper said. “It shows a lot of trust placed in me by my colleagues.”

Rep. Cooper, who has served on the committee for 9 years, was unanimously selected as the leader of the powerful 25-member committee.

As the Ways and Means chairman, Cooper will be the chief budget writer and a voting member of the Budget and Control Board (BCB).

The BCB steps in to run state government when the legislature is not in session and is an administrative division of state that oversees state property, the state retirement system, state health insurance, and other matters.

Cooper said the $5.8 billion state budget will he his primary focus when the house reconvenes on the second Tuesday of January, 2006.

He said he wants to make sure the state government “lives within our means and that the taxpayers get the best value and services for their money.”

According to Cooper, education is at the top of the list.

Expenditures for grades K-12 amount to approximately 40 percent of the state budget.

Colleges and tech schools add an additional 15 percent bringing education to around 55 percent of the budget.

Medicaid accounts for roughly 22 percent, he said. The rest of the state operates on the remaining 25 percent of the states revenues.

Cooper said he wants to continue looking at law enforcement in the state, primarily pay issues and the number of troopers on the road.

Cooper said they wanted to add 100 new troopers at a cost of $7.1 million. $3 million of that would be for salaries and the rest for cars, weapons and other equipment, according to Cooper.

He said he expected the committee’s future work to be similar to past years.

“2005 was a productive session,” Rep. Cooper said, “We were able to restore funding to several agencies, provide tax breaks for small business, give tax credits for residents, and offer needed tort reform.”

When asked about working closely with the governor, who has become known for throwing budget curveballs, Cooper replied, “Gov. Sanford has had an attitude of ‘his way or no way,’ but I will try to work with him.”

Cooper previously served four years on the Medical, Military and Municipal Affairs Committee and two years on the Education and Public Works Committee. He is also serving on the Joint Bond Review Committee and the Agency Head Salaries Committee.

He was elected to the House District 10 seat, formerly held by his father M. J. “Dolly” Cooper, in 1991.

Another member of the Anderson delegation, Representative Ronald Townsend, will continue to chair the Education and Public Works Committee, a post he has had since 1994.

Rep. Townsend has served on the EPW since going to the General Assembly in 1984.

Rep. Townsend said that EPW is sometimes considered a “hot button” because people in our state care so deeply about education and transportation issues.

The committee works with the largest state agencies: the Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Public Safety, Dept. of Motor Vehicles, Dept. of Education, Mission on Higher Education, and the State Libraries.

Rep. Townsend explained that South Carolinians have a lot to be proud of with regard to education in our state:

“Education receives all 5 cents of the state sales tax, because the General Assembly believes in education.  Our technical schools are second to none. Our education standards are higher than many other states. We also have the third largest number of national board certified teachers in the country.”

Rep. Townsend said the EPW committee also works on a variety of transportation issues including vehicle registration, speed limits, and much more. Although it is a small state, South Carolina has the fourth-largest state-maintained highway system in the country.

“I worked to reduce customer waiting time at the Department of Motor Vehicles through technology upgrades,” Rep. Townsend said.

Rep. Townsend also serves on the State Infrastructure Bank Board, which handles large projects $100 million and more.

Examples of these projects include the Cooper River (Ravenel) Bridge, the Conway Bypass, and the Upstate Grid Project (the widening of SC 24).

Education and public works issues also affect economic development in our state.

“The Anderson community is lucky to have two of its leaders in such influential positions,” said Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston.

“I’m sure that representatives Townsend and Cooper will be thoughtful in addressing local and state issues to the best of their abilities.”

Salkehatchie volunteers working on local homes

More than 50 youth and adults of all ages from across the state are on a mission in the area this week. They will be providing much needed repairs on four area homes as volunteers in the Salkehatchie Summer Services of the South Carolina United Methodist Church.

The mission group is being hosted by Shiloh United Methodist Church in Piedmont.

The volunteers will spend seven days using or learning skills as carpenters, roofers, painters, and working on other improvements on homes that are neglected or in desparate need of repairs.

Many of the home’s residents are elderly and can’t do the work or can’t afford to pay someone to do it.

The volunteers meet every morning for devotion before leaving to work on the four home sites.

Each site has a volunteer crew assigned to make specific repairs to that home and each of the volunteers pays a $180 registration fee which also helps to pay for construction materials and camp costs.

Two of the homes getting improvements are located in Williamston, one is in Pelzer, and one in Easley.

They were selected earlier this year by referrals from local churches and community groups.

Work on this year’s homes includes painting, applying siding, redoing the interior of one home and other repairs.

Local coordinator Jo Hood says it takes a great deal of pre-planning to have everything ready for the group to begin their work this week.

Many supplies, meals, and accommodations are donated by local churches and groups in the area.

The idea for the first Salkehatchie camp began 26 years ago in the mind of Rev. John Culp who saw a need to help others.

Culp was the guest speaker for the group on Tuesday evening.

The ministry has now grown to 36 summer camps which cover the entire state.

Culp chose the name Salkehatchie, an Indian word which literally means salt catcher, because the Salkehatchie River runs through the middle of Hampton County dividing the rich and the poor.

Anyone wishing to donate materials or money for this project may contact organizer Jo Hood at 850-5900.

Free water deal topic of special meeting

By Stan Welch

The accidental discovery of an unknown water line has resulted in a significant water bill for the homeowner at the end of that line.

On Monday, June 13, West Pelzer water department head Mike Mahaffey was installing a blowoff valve on a city water line that serves Holiday street. When he finished, he didn’t reconnect a smaller line, because, to his knowledge, the city had no water customers farther along that line.

Later that day,  Lee Atkins, of 273 Holiday St., came to the Town Hall demanding to know why his water had been cut off.

Atkins, who by his own estimate lives approximately 1100 feet outside the town limits, told town officials, including Mayor Peggy Paxton, that he had been receiving city water for several years at no cost, under the terms of a deal he struck with the town council.

According to Atkins, he agreed to purchase all materials and cede any future tap fees that resulted from the presence of the line to the city, in exchange for free water.

Mayor Paxton, unable to find any written record of such an agreement, declined to reconnect the service until she sought advice from the town attorney, Carey Murphy.

As a result, a special called meeting was held on Thursday, June 14 at 4 p.m. 

More than 25 people were present, including several former Town Council members and former Mayor Bud Brown, who all claimed that they had in fact approved such an arrangement with Atkins.

Among those Council members was Jerry Atkins, Lee’s father, who says he also voted to approve the deal.

Current Councilman Joe Turner, who was also on Council at the time,  also admits approving the deal, though he does not recall agreeing to not charging a monthly water bill.

Former Mayor Brown, speaking during the meeting, also conceded approving the entire deal; he later claimed that he too did not recall agreeing to free water.

A thorough review of the minutes of the town meetings since September of 1994, the month when the property in question was filed at the courthouse as belonging to Lee Atkins, shows no record of such an arrangement being approved by Council in open meeting.

Town ordinance 17.202 says clearly “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to connect with, use or tap any water or sewer main without specific authorization of the Mayor or council, in writing first obtained&ldots;”.

Section 17.107 further states that  “A. The cost of expansion of the water and sewer system to areas not serviced by the town’s water and sewerage system shall be approved by the Mayor and Council and borne by the property owners.

C. Those customers who . . .wish to receive it shall be required to pay for any additional costs for construction or laying of pipes, etc. if it is not in the best interest of the town to do so.

D. The charge shall be in addition to the taps fees for water and sewers. 

E. Both charges shall be in advance.” 

No records of those transactions have been produced.

The only documentation confirming the deal seems to be a letter sent to the current Mayor and council at the special called meeting.

Former Councilman Bill Alexander, who was unable to attend due to a scheduled medical procedure sent a letter, which Maida Kelly read into the record.

The letter follows verbatim: “I Bill Alexander was on town council when Lee Adkins ask (sic) Mayor and Council if he could run water lines to his home on Holiday Street. He stated he would pay all cost doing so. Lee paid for all digging and grading and a water meter in his yard to show how much water he uses. The town was told by Lee that it could use the line if it ever had to. Mayor and Council gave him permission to do what he did with no cost of water.” Alexander signed the letter.

Atkins insisted that the deal was approved by Council. “Council agreed if I paid for all the expenses that I could run the lines at no cost for the water. I done what I was told I had permission to do. I asked for this before I built my house. Big Creek Water lines were too far off,” he said.

Town Attorney Carey Murphy explained several times to the crowd, several of whom seemed intent on negotiating for Atkins, that regardless of whether the agreement was actually approved or not, the town council had no authority to grant such an arrangement.

“Let me make this clear. The town cannot give something to one person that it does not give to all. The law says that if you live outside the town, you pay for your line, the extension of the main line, your tap fees and your monthly water bill. He didn’t give anything to the town. He was required by law to pay all those expenses. Certainly, there’s a question as to whether the council in question was right to make the original decision. Certainly, using town employees to run a private line is wrong. Let me also make it clear than any taps that were added to that line later would automatically belong to the town.”

Murphy also pointed out that Atkins had received over 800,000 gallons of water which the city had paid for. Murphy also stressed that the Mayor “was absolutely correct in not turning the water back on. She acted quite properly.”

Mahaffey confirms that no taps have been added to that line, although a six inch line since run into the area by the town does serve other homes.

“I don’t know what size lines Mr. Atkins has run, but I doubt if it’s the six inch line we require. That would be way too big for one home,” Mahaffey said.

Council went into executive session to discuss the charges that should apply.

Atkins had previously offered to pay $1500 to have service reconnected. He based that figure on the minimum water fee of $25.50 a month over a 60 month period, though he indicated in an interview that the arrangement had been in place for “seven or eight years.”

Mayor Paxton, who originally voted to approve accepting Atkins into the system, contingent on his payment of back charges, later voted against that decision, after former Mayor Bud Brown suggested dropping the $585 tap fee, “since he already has a tap.”

Councilman Turner then made that suggestion a motion, which was approved 3-1, with Paxton opposed.

Atkins was eventually charged a total of $1,870, following the deduction of the tap fee.

“I got no choice. I’ve got to pay it. But the line was damaged by the town, and I basically have to pay you to repair it,” Atkins said during the meeting.

 Murphy reiterated that Atkins was paying for more than 800,000 gallons of water and the fees normally required by law.

Paxton also took issue with an apology which Councilwoman Maida Kelly issued to Atkins and his family, for any inconvenience they might have suffered.

“Why should we apologize? We didn’t do anything. We didn’t even know he was using city water till he came down here to complain on Monday,” said the Mayor in a later interview. “Where were all these former town officials on Monday, with their statements and support for Mr. Atkins?”

She added that acceptance of the line will probably cost the town money. “We will probably have to improve the quality of the line, and assume the maintenance, which must be performed to DHEC’s standards.”

The Mayor also addressed the issue of how long the water remained off, a period of approximately three days.

“I felt that there were legal issues involved, especially since we had no record of him being a customer. The first I heard from Mr. Atkins or anyone else that a previous Council had approved this deal was on Wednesday, after we had already scheduled the special meeting. I felt that the entire Council should be involved, and to express their feelings on the matter. I feel like someone should be held responsible; but by their decision, they basically sanctioned the special deal the first Council approved.”

 Paxton expressed her opinion that if the first Council did approve the deal, then they effectively assumed responsibility from Atkins for it.

“But clearly, one person was provided with something that others have not been, and that is free water. If an apology is due, it is due to the people of the town, who paid for that water in the first place. I just don’t see how you can just let it go.”

 

Winn Dixie to close local store locations

Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. announced Tuesday that they will be closing 31 stores in the Greenville/Spartanburg maket including stores in Williamston, Belton, Anderson, Abbeville, Easely Clemson and Pickens.

According to information on their website, the company plans to reduce the number of stores from 913 to 587, closing or selling stores located in northern Louisianna, Mississippi, Georgia and all of South Carolina and North Carolina.

As a result of the closings, Winn-Dixie expects that its workforce will be reduced by approximately 28%, or 22,000 positions.

The website states the actions are intended to enhance the Company’s financial performance and position it for profitability in the long term.

The Company’s plan consists of focusing on its strongest markets, where it typically has a significant market share position by reducing its store “footprint”.

Peter Lynch, President and Chief Executive Officer of Winn-Dixie, said: “Creating a smaller, but more profitable store base will best position Winn-Dixie for long-term financial health and a successful future. We will be focusing our resources on markets where Winn-Dixie has a strong presence and there are compelling opportunities. This will allow us to build on our strengths and take advantage of the considerable potential we see to improve the shopping experience for our customers. Already, we have made significant strides. The steps announced today will help us to continue our progress as we strive to make Winn-Dixie a stronger company, better able to compete in the marketplace with a strong foundation for the future.”

Winn-Dixie currently operates 901 stores in nine states and 12 in the Bahamas. 

The stores are located in 37 Designated Market Areas (DMAs). Once the footprint plan is implemented, Winn-Dixie will operate approximately 587 stores in 23 DMAs in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, and the Bahamas.

Of the 326 stores that the Company will sell or close, 233 stores are in DMAs the Company is leaving entirely.

The other 93 stores are located in DMAs in which Winn-Dixie will remain, but do not meet the Company’s financial requirements going forward.

Winn-Dixie’s anticipated annual revenue following the store closings  will be approximately $7.5 billion, compared to approximately $10 billion today. A full list of the stores affected, along with a map of the current and future footprint, is available at the companies website at www.winn-dixie.com.

As part of the restructuring, Winn-Dixie is marketing for sale its manufacturing plants, including its six dairy and culture plants, its pizza plant in Montgomery, Alabama, and its Chek Beverage/Deep South Products plant in Fitzgerald, Georgia, which produces Chek soda, shelf-stable juices and condiments.

If buyers are not found, the Company will continue to operate the Chek Beverage plant and the Hammond, Louisiana and Plant City, Florida dairies.

The Company is also working to find a third party to produce elsewhere the items made at its Astor Products plant in Jacksonville, Florida and the condiments at the Deep South plant. Once third parties are secured, those plants will be closed.

The Company, together with its outside advisors, is conducting an active marketing effort to identify potential buyers for the stores, distribution centers and manufacturing plants that it will no longer operate.

Stores that cannot be sold will be closed. The Company expects to announce the results of this marketing effort within several weeks.

“Our hope is to sell as many of our affected stores, plants and DCs as possible to new owners who will continue to operate them,” stated Lynch. “We are asking potential new owners to offer employment opportunities to our Associates.”

Winn-Dixie will provide severance and other assistance to each employee who is not offered employment.

According to the website, in determining its future store footprint, Winn-Dixie conducted a thorough analysis of its store base, including stores’ market share, cash flow, profitability, real estate quality, and financial outlook.

In the 14 DMAs it is exiting, the Company has either had a difficult market position, unsatisfactory financial performance, and limited opportunities for profitable sales growth, or it has determined that the stores in a particular DMA are too distant from its continuing distribution facilities to be operated on a cost-effective basis.

The DMAs that Winn-Dixie is exiting are the marketing areas of: Alexandria, Louisiana; Atlanta, Georgia; Augusta, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; Columbus-Tupelo, Mississippi; Greensboro-High Point, North Carolina; Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina; Huntsville, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Savannah, Georgia.

According to the website, where practicable, the Company will seek to offer affected employees positions at other Winn-Dixie operations.

The Company is also reviewing its corporate organization and plans to make reductions in headquarters and support personnel reflecting the smaller store footprint that the Company will operate.

Mr. Lynch said, “We regret the impact these tough decisions will have on many of our Associates, customers and local communities. We do not take these decisions lightly and would not be proceeding if these steps were not essential to restore Winn-Dixie’s financial health. We are committed to doing what we can to help minimize the impact, including, wherever possible, attempting to find new owners who will continue to operate the stores, distribution centers and plants that we are exiting. In addition, we will offer assistance to affected Associates to help them through a transition period.”

Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest food retailers. Founded in 1925, the Company is headquartered in Jacksonville, FL.

Winn-Dixie announced February 21 that it had filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

An announcement regarding a corporate restructuring is expected to be made later this summer. 

Piedmont street dance festival to benefit PERC

 A street dance and festival to benefit the Piedmont Emergency Relief Center will be held this Saturday, June 25, from 4 to 11 p.m. in downtown Piedmont.

Activities scheduled for the one day festival include live music, food, fun, special games and refreshments the whole family can enjoy, organizers said.

A street dance is set for  8-9 p.m . featuring a modern roots rock Americana duo Daystar, from Greenville. 

Taking hints of Texas influences and coloring them with European textures sets them apart from most original outfits in the music industry, their press information states.

Dwayne Strickland will perform and MC the event, and Gritz will perform blue grass music. Beach and classic pop music will be played during the drawings, organizers said.

The Carolina Blood Center will be accepting blood donations, The Piedmont Emergency Relief Center will be open for viewing and Piedmont Raceway will have slot car races during the day.

There will be numerous games and activities available for kids including the memorable “Pluck a Duck” game, the new  “Octopus toss” game, baseball toss, and 3 on 3 basketball organized by the Piedmont Christian Athletic Association.

The Boy Scouts will have a “cork gun shooting range” and volunteers will be manning other small games.

The Peanut Toss, a game from years ago, will also be a big part of the event, organizers said.

“Last year’s was extra special with the “Betty Davenport” toss. It brought tears to my eyes and was a wonderful memory for everyone,” coorganizer Norma Hedstrom said.

There will be a food court including hot dogs, chips, beverages, and chili, slaw and baked beans being supplied by Joe Fleming, a volunteer from a local church. Barbecue sandwiches will also be available. Grove Station is providing a cotton candy machine and the supplies to provide the sweets for the event.

All of the proceeds from the Street Dance will go to the Piedmont Emergency Relief Center.

The Piedmont Emergency Relief Center has been instrumental in assisting Piedmont families in need, both with food from the food pantry and in directing people to the proper authorities and organizations for further assistance.

Anyone interested in having a good time, listening to some good music, visiting with old friends and meeting new friends is invited.

“Last year’s event was wonderful and helped many people with their needs. We are hoping this year’s event is even better,” Hedstrom said.

Piedmont approves budget, look at bids

By Stan Welch

 The Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners gave third reading and final approval to their 2005-2006 budget Monday night. The final form of the budget managed to avoid what had loomed as the first deficit budget in recent memory.

A $25,000 sewer grant from DHEC, to be used in inspection and cleaning of the lines, allowed the budget to end up with a surplus of $3,531.

The Commission also voted to begin direct deposit of the funds received from the Greenville County Treasurer’s Office, as a result of a visit by County Treasurer Jill Rees Kintigh, who explained the benefits of the change.

Butch Nichols, chief administrator, was already convinced, since just days earlier the post office had briefly misplaced a check from the County for $49,000.

 Kintigh also explained that her office can invest any excess or unused funds for the Commission.

“I can give you a little better rate than the banks or even the state investment pool,” she said.

 Commissioners later instructed Nichols to look into those possibilities. 

The Commission opened five sealed bids for the replacement and installation of doors and windows in the Community Building.

Each bid was for a different combination of numbers; one was for 18 windows and 5 doors, another for 17 windows and 4 doors, while one was for 33 windows and 3 doors.

After some discussion, Commissioner Frankie Garrett made a motion that the board  itself  go and count the windows. The problem facing the Commission is that the renovations are to be funded by a grant, which in turn requires awarding of a contract before the end of the fiscal year, on June 30.

If that deadline isn’t met, the grant will be lost, according to Nichols.

July Jubilee to feature free concert

Pride In Piedmont is sponsoring a July Jubilee to be held on the grounds of the old Estes Plant on Saturday, July 2 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The event will feature two live concerts by Nashville recording artist Kelsey DiMarco, who recently kicked off a 100 city tour in North Carolina.

His summer tour, “Outlaws and Bandits” will feature songs from his new album to be released this summer.

DiMarco, a native of Bowersville, Georgia, has been performing for more than two decades and has recent hits including  “Some Summer”, Thing Like That” and Don’t Try to Find Me.” His influences include Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and the Bellamy Brothers, all of which can be heard in his music.

His debut album, “Some Summer,” has achieved nationwide success producing three chart singles, rave reviews and extensive worldwide radio airplay.

The two free performances by DiMarco in Piedmont will be at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

For more information check his website at www.kelseydimarco.com.

In addition to the concert, the event will include a peanut toss, horseshoe tournament, womanless beauty pageant and other activities.

Bags of peanuts (with prizes inside) will be tossed into the crowd every hour starting at noon.

Persons interested in competing in the horseshoe tournament can sign up at the main tent between 10 a.m. and 12 noon or call Mistie at 908-6686 to register or for details.

For more details on the womanless beauty pageant, call Heather at 908-6686.

Other events will include a Little Miss and Mr. Fircracker contest with lots of prizes for kids.

Participants should decorate a jar and ask family and friends to donate pennies to Pride In Piedmont. Each penny counts as one vote. Votes will be counted at 5 p.m. with winners announced after the concert. Sign up by calling Heather at 908-6686

Special old time competitions including kickball, pie bake off, tug of war, three legged race, sack race, egg race and more.

Organizers encourage you to bring your own chair and join the fun.

Williamston planning freedom celebration

The Town of Williamston is planning a Freedom Celebration for Saturday July 2 which will include fireworks, a cruise-in carshow, entertainment and other special activities.

The cruise-in will be held at McDonalds of Williamston beginning at 6 p.m. It is open to the public.

The Williamston Fire Department will have tickets available for three $50 drawings to be held each hour during the cruise-in.

Proceeds will go toward trophies for the Spring Water Festival auto show in August, according to Williamston Fire Chief Steve Ellison.

The Williamston Fire Department and The Town of Williamston will also host the fireworks show being presented by Pyrotecnico of Atlanta. Ellison said the show will be bigger and better than years past.

A dance with a D. J. will be held in the Mineral Spring Park from 7 p.m. to midnight. It is open to all ages.

An inflatable bounce will also be available for children.

Towns plan joint Pre-4th Celebration

The Towns of Pelzer and West Pelzer will sponsor the 3rd annual Pre-Fourth Celebration at the Pelzer ballfields July 2.

Jack Roper from News Channel 7 and the Weatherman Band will be playing from 7 to 9 p.m. The West Pelzer Fire Department will be selling barbecue plates and presenting the fireworks show.

Shriners will be offering watermelon and there will be icecream for sale.

Free sno-cones, popcorn and drinks will be offered to persons with a ticket, which will be available at the gate, organizers said.

Clowns will be on hand offering creative balloon art for children and door prizes will be announced each hour beginning at 7 p.m. You must be present to win.

Bring your lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy the fun at the Pelzer ballfields from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 2.

Parents out on bond following meth charge

The parents of a 10 month old child who tested positive for methamphetamines have both been released on bond.

Patrick Russel Cromer, 27,  and Tonya Rene Hollingsworth, 22, parents of Bryson Hunter Cromer, are no longer in custody on charges of unlawful conduct to a child and manufacturing methamphetamine for distribution.

The charges arose when the two parents took the child on June 14  to the emergency room at the Anderson Medical Center for an unknown illness. The child was tested for drugs and methamphetamine was found.

A subsequent search conducted at the parents’ home at 236 Cromer Road in Williamston revealed the presence of more of the drug, resulting in Philip Bertram Cromer being charged with possession of methamphetamine. Cromer resides at 416 Bluefield Rd. in Starr.

 According to the incident report filed by Officer C.C. McBride, of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, the parents, after hearing the test results, admitted using meth but denied that there was any in their home.

They claimed to have no knowledge of how their child ingested the drug. McBride placed the child in emergency protective custody and turned him over to a DSS caseworker. The child remains in the state’s custody. Another child in the home was removed as well.

 The Anderson County Solicitor’s Office reports that the two parents face criminal charges involving the drugs and neglect of the child, while Philip Cromer faces the charge of possession.

According to the Office, no hearings have been set except for the bond hearings that took place last week.

Sign up now for Rai$ing Race

If you were one of the millions of people who watched the CBS reality show The Amazing Race and thought you might enjoy participating, your opportunity is coming in August.

Kelly McCorkle, Miss SC 2002 and a participant in the The Amazing Race is coordinating The Rai$ing Race in Anderson’s Amazing Space which will take place across Anderson County August 12 and 13.

Proceeds from the event will go to the Leslie Mazzara Fund for a new Calvary Home for Children cottage. The cottage will be named for her friend, Leslie Ann Mazzara, who was tragically murdered, along with her roommate, last October in Napa California.

The event will be limited to 100  two person teams competing for prizes, according to McCorkle. Anyone can enter. Teams will pay an entry fee and can obtain sponsors she said.

McCorkle said several team members from the Amazing Race Season 7 will be participating in the event.

Rob & Amber, Ray & Deanna, Ryan & Chuck and others are expected, according to McCorkle who competed with her boyfriend Ron Young in the reality show race that covered 5 continents 25 cities and more than 40,000 miles.

Participants in the Rai$ing Race will experience what it’s like to be a contestant firsthand, according to McCorkle, and possibly alongside members of the AR Season 7 cast.

There will be various tasks for participants as they obtain clues, and negotiate obstacles that could include detours, roadblocks and pit stops along the way. Participating teams will have the opportunity for prizes and a grand prize, a free trip for two with spending money.

The cost per team is $300, with all entry fees going to the Leslie Mazzara Memorial Fund. The number of teams will be limited and  will be accepted on a first come - first in basis, according to McCorkle.

A huge party and concert will conclude the Rai$ing Race and will be open to the public.

The event is expected to draw statewide and national attention.

48 Hours: Mystery will be filming the event for a segment to be aired in September, according to McCorkle.

The show has been following the Mazzara case, which remains unsolved.

To sign up your team or for more information, check the website at www.lesliemazzarafund.com or call 202-250-0509.

Waffle House robbed

PIEDMONT

June 15 – J.J. Jacobs responded to the Waffle House at 103 Assembly Drive, where two employees reported that they had been robbed at gunpoint. Paul Miller and Velenthia Davenport said that a light skinned black male, 6’2’, 200 lbs. entered the restaurant through the back door. He pointed the gun and demanded the money, then made both employees sit in a booth until he left, again through the back door. He was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt with orange writing, a dark green bandanna covering his lower face, and tan cargo pants. A K9 search indicated that he left in a vehicle.

June 15 - W.T. Cunningham responded to 6740 Highway 81 where David Kampey reported several attempts of entry into his home by an unknown person. A K9 unit found no trail.

PELZER

June 15 – J.D. Shelton responded to  Blackstone’s Automotive at 1905 Anderson Highway, where owner Jimmy Blackstone reported that someone had broken into his garage and stolen the keys for 7 vehicles which were on site for repairs. The thief also broke into another car and damaged the dash while trying unsuccessfully to steal the radio. The thief stole a 1996 gold 4 DR Geo Prizm with SC tag # 638SAL.

June 15 – J. D. Shelton received a report of assault from Ginger Wemeet, who reported being approached by a white male in the parking lot of the Sun Trust Bank on Earle Morris Jr. Hwy. The man then asked if she smoked. When she said no, he asked if he could have a peek. Wemeet tried to get in her car and the man groped her.

June 15 – D.B. Anderson responded to a complaint of pointing and presenting a firearm from Connie Craine, of 11 Goodrich Road who reported that a James Anthony Craine had allegedly pulled a gun and pointed it at her.

June 15 –D.R. Graham responded to a complaint by Diane Morgan, of 144 Lebby Street that a fern and stand had been stolen from her porch, and not for the first time.

Pro Wrestling show to benefit Crimestoppers

The Williamston Police Department, IWA Flashfire and Crimestoppers will present pro wrestling on Sat. June 25 at 8 p.m. in Williamston at the Palmetto High School gymnasium.

Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children age 6-12 and under six is admitted free.

IWA produces shows for the entire family according to promoter Shayne Castro.

IWA Flashfire features  a host of qualified pro wrestlers and promotes family shows without the vulgar language and behavior of other promotions, according to Castro.

The organization is involved in community support and has hosted  benefit shows throughout the upstate area and north Georgia to help raise money for nonprofit charities, schools, children with medical problems and others, Castro said.

The wrestlers are also involved in outreach programs for children and as role models, attempt to set good community standards.

The organization includes approximately 22 wrestlers who come from the Anderson area as well as Easley, Hart County, Ga. and other areas across the state.

They promote 2 to 3 shows each month and held 38 last year.

“The show offers clean fun and a lot of action,” according to Castro. “It is a family atmosphere which kids and adults can enjoy.”

Castro said the wrestlers try to get the fans involved. “It brings back the old school memory of wrestling the way it used to be,” he said. “Everybody seems to have a good time.”

For more information on particular wrestlers involved in the IWA, check the website at www.iwaflashfire.com.

Compromizes lead to budget approval

By Stan Welch

A budget process which County Council Chair Gracie Floyd called “the roughest I’ve ever seen” ended Tuesday night with third reading approval of a compromise budget that resulted in a three mil tax increase. The original proposal by County Administrator Joey Preston and his staff called for a 6 mil increase.

Following a public hearing so brief that one person was still moving to the podium when the hearing was closed, the final reading was accomplished only after several last minute maneuvers and amendments.

To begin with Councilwoman Cindy Wilson questioned whether the Council could vote for a proposed pay raise for employees that would apply to the Council as well.

After initially being unable to answer the question, County Attorney Tom Martin revisited the issue following a later recess in the proceedings. He explained that the council is not eligible for any merit raises, since they are not subject to a performance review. They are, however, eligible for all cost of living increases. He added however that no such raise approved by this Council would apply until the next election, when the new council will reap those benefits.

Wilson then offered an amendment to change the name of the Council’s paving fund to the infrastructure fund, and allow its use not only for paving but for infrastructure projects.

The amendment would have allowed greater flexibility in the use of the funds to match grants and leverage more money for projects.

Wilson, who feels she is routinely denied access to alternative funding sources, has frequently had to use paving funds for other purposes.

Her amendment was in response to an amendment offered by Councilman Larry Greer and approved during second reading, which would have exempted a long list of “essential” departments from any budget cuts, while also restricting the use of paving funds to paving only.

To her obvious surprise, Wilson’s amendment died for lack of a second. 

The earlier amendment dealing with essential departments and paving funds was the subject of yet another amendment, this one proposed by Council Chair Gracie Floyd, who sought to delete the list of essential services, saying that all departments are essential.

Wilson again asked if rescinding the Greer amendment would include rescinding the restriction on the use of the paving funds.

Floyd, after some advice from Attorney Martin said that she was not interested in rescinding the restrictions, but only “in cutting that list”.

 Greer’s amendment to protect certain departments was expected to require even deeper cuts from other departments.

Greer spoke up, however, to tell Floyd that the amendment might not even be necessary, due to a solution found by Preston.

Preston rose to explain that by a combination of staggering new hires over the span of the coming budget year, and a downward adjustment of an anticipated increase in workmen’s compensation costs, the $450,000 in additional cuts could be obtained without further reductions by other departments.

Following further discussion, the motion to rescind the list while leaving the restrictions in place was approved 6-1, with Wilson opposing.

Greer stressed the fact that none of the amendments had changed anything to do with the tax mils. “This budget still provides 1 mil to the sheriff from the general fund and 2 mils from a special levy,” he said.

Greer also addressed what he said had been suggestions to him from constituents that the park police be placed under the sheriff’s department. He said that there was no interest from the Sheriff in assuming responsibility for the park police.

Greer cited increased costs, reduced protection of the County’s recreational facilities, and increased cost to the taxpayers to improve and upgrade the park police’s equipment and training.

Wilson made a motion to reallocate $82,000 from line item 39 in the budget and add it to the $40,000 allotted to line item 40, thereby separating the functions of auditing and management consulting.

Elliot Davis currently performs both duties, which Wilson said is improper procedure. She further moved that the combined $122,000 be spent on an extended audit of the County’s finances. Councilman McAbee seconded the motion.

Administrator Preston referred to the idea as “splitting hairs” and said the arrangement should be left as it is. Greer said that the County has a more detailed audit process than ACOG or the SHARE board.

“Our audit is adequate. The kind of audit Ms. Wilson is talking about would take over a year and cost over $100,000,” Greer said. The motion was defeated 1-6.

McAbee then sought to amend the budget ordinance as it relates to the transfer of funds in amounts greater than $2500. Currently, the administrator can make such transfers, and inform form the council later. McAbee’s change would have required Council approval of such transfers before they were made.

Greer, after withholding his vote during the 2-4 vote on the change, prevailed on the parliamentary question of whether the question could be discussed further, saying the vote could not have been announced, since he had not voted. Chair Floyd reluctantly reopened the question.

Greer than had both Preston and Gina Humphries explain how inconvenient such a change could be. Both said that emergencies could arise that would require the calling of special council meetings.

McAbee acknowledged that special meetings might be required, but explained that such a change would foster greater budgetary discipline, and improved planning. “It makes for a more rigorous budget process. We have a  fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of Anderson County, and this is a part of that responsibility,” McAbee said. The motion was defeated 2-5.

Wilson sought for a third time to obtain $10,000 from the special 3 mil sewer levy in order to fund a feasibility study concerning the installation of sewer lines from Williamston to Honea Path. The study is to be performed by Dunn and Dunn Engineering. The request, made in the form of a budget amendment, died from lack of a second.

Chairperson Gracie Floyd again cast the deciding vote, providing the margin for the 4-3 approval of the budget. She described herself as “choking” on the vote. She had consistently opposed any efforts to reduce the Sheriff’s budget.

During the regular business meeting of the Council, which followed the special called meeting to give budget approval, Council moved quickly through a thin agenda.

They approved unanimously a resolution to support an $8 million bond issue to expand the Tri County Technical College.

Councilman Greer then made a brief presentation concerning the evolution of the budget compromise which was finally adopted. He challenged Councilwoman Floyd’s charges that he had somehow hijacked the budget process, forcing his will on the council.

“First of all, let me make it very clear that at no time did I support a six mil tax increase. At no time. There was  never any hidden agenda or back room deals,” Greer said. He went on to explain that he was unsure where the fourth vote would come from to get his proposal through, but added, “My point is that the final vote was 5-2. I did not do this budget. Council did this budget.”

Councilwoman Wilson read a letter written to County Attorney Martin requesting clarification on several aspects of home rule, as well as the County’s failure to address the Beaverdam sewer line violations (See story elsewhere in this issue). Her presentation was completely ignored.

 During the period when individual Council members make comments, several made it clear that the idea of beginning the budget process earlier had appeal.

Thompson, McAbee, and Greer all supported such an idea, while Councilman Dees asked that the feasibility of producing a two year budget be explored. Councilman Tolly called the compromise budget “a miracle”.

Chairperson Floyd said that the staff already started early. “I know what the Council means, getting to discuss it and talk about it and all. But I don’t know about all that.”

Wilson’s agenda request on sewer problems ignored

By Stan Welch

The controversy over violations committed in the construction of existing phases of the Beaverdam sewer project continues.

Long time opponent of the project, District 7 County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson , continues to seek answers concerning a number of violations cited by the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE). County officials apparently continue to resist providing those answers.

The latest impasse, according to Wilson, has arisen as a result of her request that the issue be placed on the agenda for the June 21 meeting of the Council.

According to a document provided by Wilson, she requested “a brief explanation by the Administrator, Dewey Pearson, and engineers of Design South regarding expenses, fines levied and corrective measures taken on Beaverdam Sewer line Phase 1A and 1B. Photographs would be helpful. The Administrator to decide how much time he will need.”

What appeared on the agenda, which is set by  County Administrator Joey Preston and approved by Council Chairperson Gracie Floyd, is the heading “Beaverdam Sewer Line Questions: Ms. Cindy Wilson  (requested 5/allotted 5)” indicating that Wilson had requested five minutes and had received  that amount of time for her questions.

Floyd, questioned by Wilson at a previous Council meeting about a reduction of time requested by  Wilson to discuss the project, told Wilson she was tired of hearing about the sewer project.

In a letter dated June 17, Wilson asked County Attorney Tom Martin to state “whether (under the Council/Administrator form of government) the Council Chairman or the County Administrator have the authority to re-word another Councilman’s agenda item.

Again, under the Council/Administrator form of government, does the Administrator have the right to refuse to answer a Councilman’s inquiry, or questions regarding violations and fines lodged against the County and possibly its consulting engineers? The County in this instance is the owner of the project.”

She goes on to ask what financial and legal consequences Council members might face as a result of not requiring the corrections be made before the County was cited. She referred to several meetings at which she provided information, including correspondence from federal agencies, which indicated that problems indeed existed.

At one such meeting, Council Chair Gracie Floyd said that if the County hadn’t been officially informed that there were violations, then there were none.

It quickly came to light that a cease and desist order from the COE had been sent to project manager Dewey Pearson nearly a month before. At that same meeting, Administrator Preston and Pearson both denied any knowledge of any such violations, despite the receipt of the order, which Pearson described as a form letter.

Those violations, which Pearson continues to characterize as conflicts between state and federal regulations, are being addressed. 

According to Wilson, those repairs and mitigation efforts are being performed , at least in part, in lieu of payment of fines, which she says exceed $100,000.

It is those efforts and  fines which she wants Pearson and Design South representatives to explain.

In the June 17 letter to County Attorney Tom Martin, she also seeks clarification of a statement made in a March 15 letter from Preston to USFWS official Timothy Hall. That letter objects strongly to the publication of a news story in The Journal, which reported the results of an inspection of the Beaverdam project by a USFWS biologist.

 The letter also includes this statement, “Ms. Wilson has waged a campaign since 1998 to stop the Beaverdam Creek sewer line project, which is slated to run through her ancestral property, and has been a party  to significant legal action against the County to stop its construction and implementation. In 2000 Ms. Wilson was elected to Anderson County Council . . . but continued to pursue litigation against the County’s construction of the sewer lines. Therefore, she is prohibited from officially representing Anderson County in any matters related to the project and has been previously advised of this.”

Wilson strongly questions this statement, and reminds Martin in the letter that  “Your office was contacted on 5/3/05 and asked what the prohibition was and where it was issued and in what form. To date your office and Mr. Preston’s office (contacted 5/2/05) have failed to indicate what this prohibition is. As my request for explanations of these matters have again been refused, time is of the essence and your response before our 6/21/05 meeting is necessary.”

Wilson reported that as of noon on the day of the June 21 meeting, she had received no response to her requests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Printing Services About Us www.sc.edu www.clemson.edu www.espn.com Weather Powdersville Piedmont Pelzer / West Pelzer Online Bookstore Community Williamston Anderson County Bulletin Board Classifieds School News Sports Obituaries Opinions Happenings Index Front Page News