News Archive


(2808) Week of July 9, 2008

2008 Miss South Carolina crowned
Council approves funding for lights, wood chipper
Town approves $4.5 million budget; hospitality tax funding purchases
Grants help equip emergency responders
Belton church fire not caused by arson
Sheriff’s Deputies investigate incidents
Thieves miss shot at basketball goal
Seems to Me . . .Hiring policy

2008 Miss South Carolina crowned

By Hayley Meade

The 2008 Miss South Carolina and Miss South Carolina Teen Pageant was held last week at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium.

Taylor Fitch, of Anderson, was crowned Miss South Carolina Teen and Anna Perry from Florence was crowned Miss South Carolina.

Along with the title, Perry was awarded a $20,000 scholarship and will compete in the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas in January 2009.

As Miss South Carolina Teen, Fitch, who has ties to the Williamston/Belton area, was awarded a $5,000 savings bond and will compete in the Miss America Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Florida.

Miss Williamston, Holly Whatley received “Most Photogenic” as well as the “People’s Choice Award.”

The People’s Choice Award was given to the contestant who raised the most money for the Children’s Miracle Network, the Miss America Organization’s national platform. 

As the award recipient, Whatley participated in the final night of competition during which she performed her talent routine, singing “Something to Talk About.”

Whatley describes her experience at the Miss South Carolina Pageant in her blog as “a great learning experience and a blessing.”

A 20 minute ‘sneak peak” of the 2008 Miss South Carolina and Miss South Carolina Teen Competitions will air on SC-ETV on August 24th at 4 p.m.

The entire Miss South Carolina and Miss South Carolina Teen Competitions will air on SC-ETV  Sunday, September 14 at 7 p.m. back-to-back.

Council approves funding for lights, wood chipper

During their meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved funding for downtown streetscape lighting, entertainment for the Spring Water Festival and purchase of a new wood chipper.

Council approved $10,000 to be used toward the purchase of 10 decorative street lights for the downtown streetscape project. The funding for the lights will come from the town’s hospitality tax fund.

 The original grant amount of $105,000 was not enough to cover the total costs of the project, officials said.  The Greater Williamston Business Association will contribute a $10,000 match to complete the $20,000 needed for the lighting purchase.

The town considered the option of leasing the lights indefinitely for $551 per month or to purchase the lights outright and pay  $197 monthly. Both options included installation and a 10 year service agreement. The purchase option has an estimated six year payback, officials said.

Work on the East Main streetscape project is expected to begin next week. 

Council approved a request from the Spring Water Committee for funding for entertainment for the upcoming festival.

SWF chairman David Meade asked council to consider approving up to $10,000. 

Meade said the committee wanted to take the festival to the next level by bringing a household name entertainer to the festival while continuing the tradition of offering free entertainment and giving back to the community.

Councilman Marion Middleton Jr. made a motion to provide the funding. The vote was unanimous.

Council approved the purchase of a $36,600 wood chipper for the street department. The machine will be hauled behind the new dump truck for on site grinding. Mulch resulting from use of the machine will be available to town residents by request.

 Funding for the purchase was designated to come from the town’s sanitation fee.

There was considerable discussion of how to interview the final four candidates applying for the town administrator position.

The field has been narrowed to five however due to slow movement in the process, one of the five was not now interested Mayor Phillip Clardy said.

After discussion of how to keep applicants annonymous and still meet FOI guidelines, Council decided to meet as a quorum at 6 p.m. on July 29  to interview three of the candidates.

To protect the confidentiality requested by one of the candidates, an interview will be conducted by two councilmen at a time, and then by the mayor and possibly town clerk

In other business, Council postponed making a decision to switch the town’s cell phone service to Autel until a comparison of the current costs could be made available to council. A representative of Autel made a presentation.

Council unanimously agreed to authorize Rusty Burns to seek grants for a project list for the town.

Council decided not to increase funding for a n Eagle Scout project pergola to include cedar instead of treated wood.

Council approved second reading on an election ordinance setting the town’s municipal election as Nov. 4

Council approved second reading on rezoning of property at 228 Longview Rd. to allow a mobile home.

Purchase of town flags was tabled after discussion of whether they should be one sided or two sided flags.

During public comments, Pamela Ownes asked about playground equipment and a picnic table for the Gray Drive walking track park.

Mayor Clardy said he has asked parks and recreation director Dale Martin to prepare a proposal for the park and others.

Willie Wright thanked town employees for their hard work on getting the ward printed on the water bills, a project he had pursued for more than a year. Unexplainable however, was that

Wright’s water bill did not have his ward printed on it, Mayor Clardy said.

Wright also asked about changing the town’s election law so that voters only vote for the representative of their particlar ward instead of townwide for each ward.

After hearing public comments at the start of the meeting, Council went into executive session to discuss a contract issue.

Council also went into executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss a legal matter and contract with Goldie and Associates.

Upon returning to public session, Council approved an amended contract with Engineering of Professional Service for the waste water treatment and agreed to drafting a letter stating a disclosure settlement. No other information was provided.

Town approves $4.5 million budget; hospitality tax funding purchases

By Stan Welch

During a meeting held Monday, June 30, Williamston Town Council gave final approval to the 2008-2009 town budget. A last minute budget workshop scheduled prior to the meeting ran thirty minutes over into the meeting scheduled to approve the budget.

Before giving final approval, the council approved several expenditures, including the purchase of two pickup trucks, at a cost of $18,376 each. The trucks were purchased on a state contract. One truck was purchased with hospitality tax funds since it was assigned to the Parks and Recreation Department, while the water department purchased the other truck with its funds.

An additional $7,000 in hospitality tax revenues was spent to replace the gym doors. The recent repairs of the roof to the firemen’s gazebo at the park were also paid from hospitality tax funds. That amount was not available at the time this article was written.

Councilman Otis Scott expressed concerns that the Council might be approaching the twenty per cent limit which the hospitality tax allows to be spent on non recreational uses. “With this truck and other things, we must be getting pretty close. We don’t want to end up in trouble with the state.”

Mayor Clardy assured him that the new fiscal year begins on July first, and the expenditures would be allowable. The July first date also made the special called meeting to get a budget approved necessary.

The budget shows both revenues and expenditures in the general fund of $2,736,017, which allows a contingency fund of $396,580.24.

In the water/sewer department budget, both revenues and expenditures are shown at an amount of $1,787,100, also showing a contingency fund of $110,591.73.

The budget, as finally approved, reflects no increase in millage and no increase in water or sewer rates, although those rates are almost certain to increase in the coming tax year.

Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. addressed that matter. “We are not increasing the water or sewer rates at this time. But we will be receiving funding from the RDA to continue upgrading our sewer lines and pursuing our land application system. When they give us that money, they will basically tell us what our rates have to be in order to repay the grants and loans they provide. At that time, the rates will certainly go up. This Council just doesn’t want people to feel like they were blindsided by that increase. It is coming, probably in this tax year.”

Middleton went on to explain that the ingress and infiltration problems faced by the town have to be resolved.

“We have established two new positions in the water and sewer department. These two people will do nothing but go around, with a third person who is already working for the town, and smoke lines and locate manholes. The I&I problem has to be fixed, and it needs to be done in the next two years. Main Street, which currently sits on top of several manholes, which gives it that special ripple effect, is scheduled to be repaved in 2010. We need to locate and possibly move those manholes before that.”

The new budget does reflect an increase in the deposit required to obtain water and sewer service for new accounts from $100 to $150.

Middleton also pointed out that the Town’s proposed use of a land application method for disposing of their wastewater will resolve many of the issues facing the town.

“When we begin putting this wastewater on the ground instead of into the Saluda River, we drop off the federal radar, as far as regulations go. We won’t be subject to discharge standards anymore, and that will be very good for our town.”

Councilman Carthel Crout agreed, saying, “Every small town will eventually have to do this, because DHEC is determined to stop discharges into the Saluda. So we are actually ahead of the curve on this issue.”

According to Goldie & Associates, the Town’s engineering consultants, just purchasing sufficient treatment capacity from Western Carolina would cost $11 million and would not address increasingly tougher discharge standards set by the federal government.

Grants help equip emergency responders

By Stan Welch

A number of municipalities and other service organizations in the area have been recent beneficiaries of various state and federal grants.

One of the largest grants obtained was received by the Williamston EMS squad, which received $88,000 in federal funds. Marty Evans, administrative captain for the squad, stated that the squad had joined with the Piercetown and Hopewell Fire Departments to seek a regional grant to obtain radios to be used in conjunction with the county’s newly adopted 800MHz radio system.

“EMS units not attached to fire departments were allowed to apply for these FEMA assistance to firefighter grants beginning last year. We joined with these two fire departments because we all abut one another’s coverage areas. Our chances went way up when we joined with them, actually. We will get twelve of the new radios, and each of those departments will get six, for a total of 24 radios,” said Evans.

“We actually put in for three grants, which is the maximum allowed. We’ve only heard about this one, but we have also asked for funds for an ambulance and for turnout gear and other equipment. We’re hoping to receive as much as an additional $120,000.

The Piedmont Fire Department received $60,000 from the state competitive grants program, with the cooperative efforts of Sen. Billy O’Dell and Rep. Dan Cooper. Those funds will be used to purchase a grass truck, or a fire truck specifically fitted to fighting grass fires.

The Belton area saw two grants awarded to various organizations. The Belton Area Museum Association received $12,240 in competitive grant funds for the Heritage Days at the Depot event. The Belton Center for the Arts also received $30,000 for its renovation project.

Honea Path received $5000 for their pilot project to reclaim the cooking oil used in local schools for conversion into biodiesel fuel for the Town’s trucks.

Camp Forty Three of the Sons of Confederate Veterans received $5000 for its Battle of Anderson education program.

The Pelzer Rescue Squad received $27,000 to purchase equipment in conjunction with the upgrading of their facilities.

The Powdersville Water District obtained several sizable grants for the expansion of existing lines, or the construction of new ones. A water restoration project at Arizona Drive and Woodland Drive received $73,000, while a project to supply water to customers on Campbell Road was funded at $135,000. A project to extend lines to lower/middle income customers in the Firetower Rd. area received an additional $240,000.

West Pelzer received a $5000 competitive grant  to purchase and install an additional thirty meters which can be read electronically from a passing vehicle.

The town of Easley received $500,000 to partially fund the redevelopment of the former Saco Lowell textile plant to the Easley Town Center Retail Destination center.

Rep. Brian White helped the Balloon Fest obtain $100,000 in funding, while the Anderson Sunshine House restoration project, which provides emergency housing to homeless families with children received $75,000.

The Flat Rock School wastewater system received $40,000 to help fund sewer lines to the school, area residences and light industrial customers in the Starr area.

Belton church fire not caused by arson

Anderson County Fire Chief Billy Gibson said Tuesday that arson is not believed to be the cause of a fire that destroyed a 100 year old church near Belton.

A burned out brick shell is all that remains of New Hope Baptist Church near Belton after a midday fire Monday gutted the building.

The church, located off Murphy Rd at the intersection of Tony Creek and New Hope Road,  was scheduled to begin Vacation Bible School that evening.

“We’re going to rebuild,” pastor Donnie Gambrell said. “We’ve got the faith. The resources will come.”

West Pelzer and Whitefield firefighters were originally sent to New Hope Baptist Church on Hwy. 8 Pelzer, but firefighters were redirected to the Belton church about two minutes later.

The fire was reported just before noon when people at the church preparing for Bible school noticed smoke coming from a classroom, saw the fire, closed the door and called 911, Giobson said.

Traffic along Cooley Bridge Road was detoured as a water supply hose snaked along the highway and back roads for approximately 3/4 of a mile. Water supply was a problem in battling the blaze, Gibson said.

The church, constructed in 1971, replaced a church that  stood at the site since 1875. It was built before current fire codes which require a close hydrant, according to Gibson.

Firefighters from several stations battled the blaze with water in fire trucks and ran out of water for a brief time before the supply line was laid and water transported with tanker shuttles from another water supply Gibson said.

The Anderson County Fire Department, State Law Enforcement Divisiona and the Federal Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms are investigating the fie per protocol when there is a church fire, Gibson said.

The congregation is considering moving to Palmetto Elementary School in Williamston unitl members can use insurance proceeds to build a new church, a spokesperson said.

Sheriff’s Deputies investigate incidents

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated the following incidents:

EASLEY

July 3 – B.K. Baxter was dispatched to 146 Ola Dr. where Roy Shepherd, who owns his own electrical business, reported the theft of twenty seven reels of copper wire in various gauges from the deck of his home. The reels were valued at $1500.

July 4 – B.K. Baxter responded to 606 Lake Rd. where Billy Styles reported that he had been passing his brother’s house when he noticed a vehicle light on and someone in a vehicle at the home. He parked at his house just up the street and returned to the scene where he found a suspect in the vehicle. He approached and began to chase the suspect who eventually escaped on foot. A subsequent search of the vehicle showed that a wallet in the car had $100 taken from it.

July 6 – J.J. Jacobs and R.D. Smith observed a green Dodge Durango run a stop sign at James Rd. and Powdersville Rd. They initiated a traffic stop and found that the driver, Gregory Witham, WM, 34, 5’8", 150 pounds, brn/blue, to be very nervous, and visibly shaking while talking to the officers. Both Witham and his wife, Cari Ann Witham, were removed from the vehicle and interviewed separately. Cari Ann informed the officers that there was some marijuana and a pipe in the vehicle. It was located and Gregory Witham was arrested for simple possession. The vehicle, which also had the couple’s five year old child inside, was released to the wife.

PELZER

June 26 – J.T. Bowers responded to Hwy. 20 and Old River Rd. where he assisted the SCHP by transporting Paul Vossburg, WM, 42, 5’9", 160 pounds, brn/blue, to ACDC to be held for a breathalyzer test.

June 26 – M.T. Szymanski responded to 232 Country Glen Rd. where he met with two investigators from the Pickens sheriff’s Office. The investigators relayed information they had that two trailers at the Country Glen Rd. location were stolen from Pickens County. Szymanski asked the occupant of the home if he could come in the house to talk about the trailers and Sharon Keeler, WF, 5’9", 133 pounds, brn/brn refused to allow him entry and said she knew nothing about the trailers. A records check confirmed that the trailers were stolen from Pickens County. The owner of the trailers was contacted and came and retrieved them. Keeler did allow a search of the back yard, and she and Kenneth Keeler, WM, 43, 6’3", 180 pounds were issued a copy of the search consent form. No arrests were made.

July 3 – P.D. Marter met West Pelzer police at 3 Welborn St. where he took Misty Summerall, WF, 28, 5’5", 200 pounds, brn/brn into custody on a warrant for a fraudulent check.

PIEDMONT

June 27 – C. Whitfield responded to 10852 Anderson Rd. where he spoke with Arnold Cruell, who reported he and a friend had been traveling down Hwy. 81 near Brushy Creek BBQ when they encountered a moped scooter with two white males on it. It was weaving in the lane and Cruell and his friend stayed behind it, even though other cars passed them both. The two white men began flipping the bird at Cruell and his friend and called them racial names. Cruell said he turned into a restaurant parking lot and the moped did too. The moped and truck collided, though the different parties told directly opposite stories about how that happened. No arrests were made and the deputy was going to present the case to a  magistrate.

June 29 – C. Whitfield investigated a complaint of assault and battery at 407 Hurricane Creek Rd. where Michael Merck reported that he had gotten into an argument and was punched in the nose and pushed down. No arrests were made but Merck was issued a victim’s form.

WILLIAMSTON

June 26 – Several incidents occurred at 107 Zippo Pine Drive over the course of a week. On June 26, M.T. Szymanski investigated a burglary at that location. Crystal Brown, who was moving out of the residence reported that someone had broken in and stolen  electronics, jewelry, and household goods valued at more than $3500. A week later, on July 3, M.D. Campbell responded to a report of a burglary in progress. He and T.B. Dugan responded and found the two suspects in the act of loading a car with goods. Both were arrested and detained.

 A records check revealed that Charles Haygood Jr., BM, 39,5’9", 190 pounds, also had active warrants for fraudulent checks, while Kamara Wright, BF, 5’10", 130 pounds, was also wanted on a warrant from Virginia. Both were transported to the law enforcement center.

July 3 – K.D. Pigman responded to 199 Sandy Lane where Ralph Stoudemier, owner of VMC-MOW,LLC reported the theft of 3 Bombardier ATV’s valued at $5000 each, and a flail head valued at $400.

July 3 – K.D. Pigman was on patrol when he observed two vehicles parked at the end of American Way off of Alliance Boulevard. Both drove off when they saw him. A tag check of the two vehicles revealed that the tag on the Cadillac was suspended for failure to maintain insurance. He stopped the vehicle and found that the driver’s license of Joshua Hawkins, WM, 26, 6’1", 200 pounds, red/brn, of Seneca was also suspended. A search of the vehicle revealed a .380 handgun and several rounds, a military style bullet proof vest, and several .410 shotgun shells. Hawkins was placed in custody for DUS and transported to ACDC.

Thieves miss shot at basketball goal

Williamston Police officers investigated the theft of a basketball goal and an incident in which a man couldn’t hold his motorcycle upright. Among incidents investigated were the following:

July 6 – Ptl. J. Digirolamo was dispatched to 212 Longview Dr. where Andrea Lehmann , of 211 Longview Dr., and another witness, Ann Moore, reported that a white male and a white female had pulled up to the incident location and began loading a  free standing basketball goal into a black Toyota Tundra pickup truck. The two witnesses gave descriptions of the subjects. As they were talking the suspect vehicle came by, and upon seeing the officer, accelerated to a high rate of speed. The officer pursued and finally stopped the vehicle. Cpl. R.G. Alexander arrived on the scene to assist. James Gerard Day, WM, 39, 6’, 240 pounds , blond/blue, of 304 Tabernacle Rd., Belton, and matching the description given, was detained. Subject #2, Donna Faye Free, WF, 40, 5’5", 130 pounds, blond/blue of the same address, was also detained and both were transported to the WPD.

July 6 – Ptl. D.E. Whaley was on patrol and observed a vehicle turn without using a signal. As he followed the vehicle it again turned without using a signal. He stopped the car and discovered that the driver, John Wesley Alexander III,WM,  18, 5’11", 170 pounds, brn/brn, of Stanton, CA, had no driver’s license. He was arrested and transported to the WPD.

July 6 – Cpl. J.M. Hall investigated a complaint by Jerry Carter of 19 Shaw Drive that someone had hit his chain link fence with a vehicle. The damage was estimated at $400.

July 5 – Sgt. T.A. Call responded to the BP gas station on Greenville Dr., where Erin Cowart, WF, 17, reported that as she was entering her car, a black male in faded jeans and orange ball cap wedged himself into the door area and threatened her unless she gave him her money. She gave him ten dollars and he fled on foot.

July 4 – Ptl. J. Digirolamo was dispatched to the Middleton Blvd. Apartments where Joyce McKellar reported that she had been letting her brother use her red 1989 Chevrolet Beretta. He called her and asked if she had taken the vehicle back. She said no and he reported that it was missing. The vehicle has a SC tag# 789VPC. It was subsequently located and recovered on Owen Road. ACSO Deputy Beddingfield located the vehicle.

July 3 – Ptl. M.W. Ritter and Sgt. M.D. Creamer were on patrol and observed a pickup truck run a stop sign on Greenville Dr. They stopped the vehicle and subsequently discovered that the driver, Saulo Salado, WM, 31, 5’7", 150 pounds, of Greenville, was driving under suspension, and operating an uninsured vehicle. He was taken into custody.

July 1 – Ptl. J. Digirolamo and Ptl. D.E. Whaley were parked in an empty parking lot on Gossett St. when a Moped scooter without lights went by. They stopped the driver and frisked him for their safety. Feeling what he thought to be a knife in one pocket, the officer asked the subject who said it was a knife. A subsequent search revealed a hypodermic needle also. Two glass pipes and an amount of white powder were also allegedly found. Michael Zachary Bibb, WM, 26, 5’7", 150 pounds, brn/brn, of 504 Parker St., was arrested for unsafe equipment and possession of methamphetamine.

July 1 – Sgt. T.A. Call was dispatched to the dead end on North St. where subjects drinking had been reported. He found Joey Derrick Owen, WM, 21, 5’11", 160 pounds, brn/hazel, of Belton, sitting on a log. He was arrested for public disorderly conduct.

July 1 – Ptl. D.E. Whaley observed a vehicle on Belton Dr. with no lights on. He stopped the vehicle and subsequently charged Robert Devine, WM, 50, 5’6", 175 pounds, brn/green for no taillights, DUS 3rd offense, no vehicle registration, no proof of insurance and improper vehicle license tag. He was arrested and transported to the WPD.

June 30 – Sgt. T.A. Call responded to the Dollar General Store where Michelle Clark reported that Harley Edwards, WM, 28, 5’10", 195 pounds, brn/hazel, of 12 East 1st St., had assaulted her by striking her in the eye. The subject had fled the scene on foot before the police arrived. Clark stated her intentions of pressing charges and promised to provide police with a written statement after she got off work.

June 29 – Cpl. D.W. Bryant responded to Veterans Memorial Park where Mayor Clardy had reported damage to the back fence. No damage to the cannon was reported.

June 29 – Sgt. A Digirolamo, Jr. responded to the Burger King in reference to a report that someone had fallen over on their motorcycle. He found Richard Dewayne Hyder, WM, 37, 5’7", 225 pounds, grey/brn, of Inman SC, in the parking lot. Reports state he was very unsteady on his feet and smelled strongly of alcohol. He was arrested for public disorderly conduct.

June 28 – Ptl. M.W. Ritter and Reserve Officer D.C. Dill were dispatched to Austin St. in response to a report of a dispute between the subject, Carl Wardlaw, BM, 45, 5’9", 172 pounds, and an unidentified female at the scene. Upon arriving, Ritter saw Wardlaw leaving the scene on foot and ordered him several times to stop. When he did not, the two officers took the subject to the ground and handcuffed him. He suffered a minor contusion under his right eye, and was eventually transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital for examination. He was very combative during the arrest and subsequent removal from the police car at the Williamston Police Department. He was charged with public disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

June 27 – Chief David Baker spoke with Jacqueline King at the Williamston Police Department concerning several checks that had been stolen from her husband, Barry King. One check was cashed at the First Citizen’s Bank for $500. The check, which was forged, was made out to Andre Letrale Hill, BM, 33, 5’7", 170 pounds, of 3  Kitson St. in Greenville. A second subject was identified as Jerry Tyrone Moorehead, BM, 45, of 106 Gin Rd. in Piedmont.  An affidavit of forgery was provided and the investigation continues.

June 27 – Sgt. M.D. Creamer responded to 38 McAlister St. where Daniel Reeves, Jr. of 40 McAlister St., reported that someone had broken into the incident location. Larry Smith, who owned the property in question, later responded. Damage to the house was estimated at $500.

June 26 – Ptl. J. Digirolamo was dispatched to 310 F East Main St. where James Kinman, 17, reported that Jennifer Rychlik, his mother, had been calling him from Hiram Georgia and leaving obscene and harassing telephone calls. Kinman did not want to press charges, but the responding officer did contact Ms. Rychlik and ask her to stop making such calls. She agreed to do so.

June 26 – Cpl. R.G. Alexander was on patrol when he met a red Saturn with a headlight out. He stopped the vehicle and discovered that the driver, Robert Baldwin, WM, 33, of Anderson, was driving on a license suspended for failure to pay a traffic ticket. Further investigation revealed that it was his third offense and he was taken into custody.

Seems to Me . . .Hiring policy

By Stan Welch

From several indications, the aftershocks from the earthquake that rocked the Anderson County Council last month continue to make it very tricky to find one’s way around the political landscape.

One tremor that has rumbled through the refugee camp occupied by the three defeated incumbents is an ordinance proposed by Councilwoman Cindy Wilson that would prevent the hiring of any former Council member by the administrator for a period of at least one year after that Council member leaves office.

Rumors have spread almost as quickly as a tsunami that two of the defeated have been promised gainful employment in the county’s ever-expanding pool of employees. (Real estate licenses have such a limited value in today’s housing market.)

The proposed ordinance would also prevent any former councilmember from being retained as a consultant or from being awarded any contract with the county for that same period. That separates the wheat from the chaff, doesn’t it?

Whether it is Wilson’s intent to inconvenience those who have routinely inconvenienced her in recent years, or simply to force county administrator Joey Preston to find more creative ways to provide corn for the lame ducks, the impact of the proposal was made clear by Preston’s unsolicited response to it.

Despite Wilson’s request that the proposal simply be put in the form of an ordinance for the Council’s review, Preston immediately involved his, I’m sorry, the county’s, personnel attorney, Nancy Bloodgood, asking her to review and opine upon the odious ordinance.

I find it remarkable that Mr. Preston, who managed to drag Ms. Wilson’s requests for information through court after court and year after year, took it upon himself to independently accelerate the process of determining this particular piece of legislation’s status.

If I had to guess, I would guess that he chose that approach to relieve those lame ducks from the burden of having to vote for or against setting their own feeding schedule. And if I thought that Ms. Wilson was capable of such scheming, I might think that’s at least part of what she was trying to accomplish.

Ms. Bloodgood, who is dependable if nothing else, almost as quickly fired back an opinion that such a proposed ordinance would be illegal, infringing on Preston’s remarkable powers under the Home Rule Act. Ms. Bloodgood’s predictable objection was based on the powers held by the county administrator under home rule, including those of hiring and firing all of the County’s nearly one thousand employees.

She cited the usual laundry list of powers that accrue to Preston under the council/administrator form of government, stressing his authority in the area of employment. While I claim no legal expertise, it is a bit problematic that no one ever seems to get to the end of that list, which says, “to perform such other duties as may be required by council.” That one apparently carries little weight, although it may carry a good bit more next January than it does this July.

At least the possibility that Council can require an administrator to do certain things exists somewhere in print.

That same list also empowers, and one would think, requires, the administrator to “execute the policies, directives, and legislative actions of the council.” Again, I claim no expertise in the field of defeating common sense through litigation, otherwise known as the practice of law. But doggone it, it seems to me like that ordinance reads a lot like a policy.

Of course, that list of powers also refers to the “appropriation of funds by the council” for the purpose of paying said employees. Since the twenty five new positions funded in the 2008-2009 budget didn’t include any new hires in the area of economic development, maybe the jobs reportedly promised will be at the new animal shelter.

Grab a shovel, fellows. At least you have some experience.

 

 

 

 

 

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