News Archive

(2905) Week of July 20, 2005

Week of July 20, 2005

Auditors suggest areas that need addressing
The Rai$ing Race features celebrities
School District 1 sets registration, classes start August 4
Meeting to discuss Cherokee Rd. bridge replacement
Audit shows West Pelzer financial condition strong
West Pelzer awaits response from County
Four arrested in set-up armed robbery incident
Copyright ordinance for planning information defeated
Father, son shooting baffles town, officials

Auditors suggest areas that need addressing

In the 2004 audit for the Town of Williamston, the auditing firm of Greene, Finney & Horton,LLP. Certified Public Accountants, suggested several ways the town could improve internal controls resulting in better operation of the town.

The accounting firm made numerous recommendations for improving accounting and other procedures for the town and the police department that would aide in the detection of accounting errors and reduce the risk of fraud in both departments.

Management letters accompanying the audit report state the town has six “procedural weaknesses” involving internal controls which increase risk that accounting errors and fraud may occur.

The report states there are procedural weaknesses in the areas of bank account deposits, approval of time cards and hours worked, applying employee health insurance equally to all employees, recording cash accounts and related activity on the ledger in a timely manner, purchasing and purchase orders and capital asset record keeping and reconciliation.

The auditors suggested controls should include: deposit all cash receipts in the bank’s night drop depository on a daily basis; have appropriate independent personnel properly approve all time cards and review hours worked for reasonableness; verify that health insurance benefits are being applied to all employees in the same manner in accordance with town policies and procedures; record all new bank accounts and related activity for those accounts and current accounts in a timely manner.

Auditors also suggested the town implement a purchasing process and system that includes purchasing limits and requires vendors names and detailed information on what is being purchased. They also suggested the purchasing system should require approval by responsible and appropriate personnel of all purchase orders prior to Town funds being obligated.

It also suggested the town should conduct an annual capital asset inventory and reconcile those inventories to the capital asset listing.

There were several conditions mentioned relating to the Police Department, which operated under former Chief Troy Martin, including not tracking and recording police fines and tickets on a timely basis; police fines not being deposited on a timely basis; excess cash being held at the police station; police fine information not being submitted to the SC State Treasurer’s office in a timely manner and no reconciliation of traffic ticket numbers and tickets issued.

The report states that having adequate staff and proper internal controls will aide in the detection of errors and reducing the risk of fraud.

Auditors recommended hiring and keeping adequate staff to track and record police fines and tickets and deposit police fines collected on a daily basis to ensure no cash is being held in the police department.

The report also suggests that the town submit the required monthly reports to the SC State Treasurer’s office in a timely manner and to reconcile traffic ticket numbers to the tickets that have beeen issued on a timely basis.

The management letters also state that the auditors became aware of numerous areas of potential increases and effectiveness that could be achieved concerning the financial condition of the Town.

According to the auditing firm,  Administration appears to be overstaffed and in some cases over compensated based upon comparisons to other municipalities of similar size.

It states that there are significant costs involved with overtime for employees and problems with document retention and record keeping.

The report recommends the town consider internally evaluating staffing, comparing to similar sized municipalities in order to see if some administration expenses could be decreased.

It also recommended a review of employees receiving overtime and whether or not the overtime is appropriate. Also the town should consider placing eligible employees on a salary and suggests implementing an improved document filing and retention process.

The report also indicates that the town was out of compliance concerning IRS regulations related to compensation received by volunteer firefighters.

The report states that compensation received by volunteer fire fighters should be considered taxable income and anyone receiving more that $600 either be issued a 1099 or W-2 form.  (The only exception to this rule is if the fire fighter is participating in a state sponsored retirement plan.)

The Rai$ing Race features celebrities

In addition to bringing participants from across the area and across the country, the Rai$ing Race in Anderson’s Amazing Space, set for August 12 and 13, is bringing a number of celebrities to the Upstate.

Kelly McCorkle, Miss SC 2002 and a participant in the The Amazing Race Season 7 is organizing The Rai$ing Race to help raise funds for a memorial to Leslie Ann Mazzara. Proceeds from the event will go to the Leslie Mazzara Fund for a new Calvary Home for Children cottage.

Mazzara, a former Miss Williamston, was murdered along with her roommate last October in Napa California. The case remains unsolved.

In addition to teams who particpated on the reality TV show with her, other celebrities are expected to attend the event, according to McCorkle, who competed with her then boyfriend Ron Young in the reality show race.

Already committed from the Season 7 show are celebrity teams Rob & Amber, Ray & Deanna, Ryan & Chuck, Meredith & Gretchen, Susan & Patrick, and Uchenna  & Joyce. Also season 6 participants Jonathan and Victoria.

Newly crowned Miss S. C.  Erika Grace Powell and Mrs. South Carolina, Angela Singleton Hughes are expected.

“Radio” James Kennedy and Coach Jones will also be attending, McCorkle said, as well as members of the Greenville Grrrowl Hockey organization.

Ray and Deanna’s band, The Shooting Star Classics,  will headline the Finale Celebration which will include a local rapper and DJ.

Advance tickets for the family oriented event, which will be held at the Anderson Civic Center, are only $15 each and are now available at the website.

In addition to the entertainment, admittance includes a barbecue plate and drink from Ole Country Smokehouse and the opportunity to meet and have photos taken with the celebrities. Local ticket locations will be announced next week.

Participants and winners will also be recognized during the finale celebration evening which begins at 5:30 p.m. immediately following the end of the Rai$ing Race activities.

The two day event is being limited to 100  two-person teams competing for fun and prizes, according to McCorkle.  Already 35 teams have signed up with particpants from Anderson, Honea Path, Simpsonville, Newberry and other local towns.

The event is also getting interest nationally, with contestants from as far as California, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvannia already signed up, McCorkle said.

The event is open to contestants of all ages and local teams are encouraged. Entry fee per team is $300 and teams can obtain sponsors if they want, she said.

Participants in the Rai$ing Race will experience what it’s like to be a contestant firsthand in an event similar to The Amazing Race in which she participated.

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.

None of the activities require real physical exertion, according to McCorkle.

Participating teams will have the opportunity for prizes and a grand prize, a free trip for two with spending money.

Organizers are also looking for volunteers for the event including observers for each of the teams.

Observers will ride with a team, but cannot participate or help.

Corporate sponsorships are available. A $1,000 sponsorship includes a company logo on the event T-shirts and promotional materials.

For more information on being a sponsor, contestant or volunteer, check the website at www.lesliemazzarafund.com or call 202-250-0509.

School District 1 sets registration, classes start August 4

With the first day of school looming only 14 days away, parents and students are beginning the countdown to the start of the 2005-2006 school year.

August 1-3 will be staff development days with Thursday, August 4 being the first day of classes for students.

Anderson School District One registration and orientation will begin next week for area schools.

Students (and/or parents) may pay fees, meet with teachers and administrators, purchase yearbooks, and pick up schedules, parking permits, and bus schedules on the following dates:

Cedar Grove Elementary - Registration  will be held Thursday, July 28, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and Friday, July 29, 7a.m.-12 noon

Parents may come into the school and receive their child’s homeroom assignment, pay fees, and receive a student planner and other important paperwork.

Kindergarten parents only July 28 at 10 a.m. or 6 p.m.

Orientation will be held Tuesday, August 2, from 2:30-6:30 p.m. for all grades and to allow students and parents to meet teachers.

Special Note:  Cedar Grove Elementary will now have a K4 program.  Registration for this program will be on Thursday, July 28, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

Concrete Primary - Registration is Thursday, July 28, 3:30-6:30 in the Multi-purpose room. Orientation for K5 will be August 1 at 5 p.m. in individual classrooms.

Orientation for First & Second Grades  is  August 2. Drop in between 4:30-6 p.m. in individual classrooms.

Hunt Meadows - Registration & Orientation will be Monday, August 1, 5 p.m. with Teacher/Parent meeting for Special Education and Kindergarten (K5) at 5 p.m. and  2nd and 4th grade will be at 6 p.m. Drop in to pay fees in the multi-purpose room between 5-7 p.m.

 Teacher/Parent meeting for K4 and 1st grade will be Tuesday, August 2, at 5 p.m. and for 3rd grade and 5th grade at 6 p.m.. Drop in to pay fees in the multi-purpose room from 5-7 p.m.

Palmetto Elementary - Orientation is August 2, 6-7 p.m. Registration is July 28, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and July 29, 8 a.m.-12 noon

Palmetto High - Registration, including paying fees and having pictures taken for all grades, will be Thursday, July 28, 8 a.m.–12 noon, 1 p.m.-4 p.m. and Friday, July 29, 8 a.m.-12 noon, 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Open House at the school will be  August 11, 5-8 p.m.

Palmetto Middle - Registration is   Thursday, July 28, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Orientation for 6th grade only will be Monday, August 1, at 6 p.m.

Pelzer Elementary - Registration is Tuesday, August 2, 4-6 p.m. Register student, pay fees and meet the teachers in the cafeteria. 

Powdersville Elementary - Registration for 3rd grade is Monday, August 1, at 6 p.m.

4th & 5th grade registration will be Tuesday, August 2, 6 p.m.

Meet teachers, pay fees, and pick up bus schedules.

Powdersville Middle - Orientation/Registration is Tuesday, August 2, 6-7:30 p.m.

Spearman Elementary - Orientation is Tuesday, August 2, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Registration is open anytime.

West Pelzer Elementary - Registration for all grades is Monday, August 1, 2-4 p.m.

Orientation all grades except K4 is   Thursday, August 11, at 6:30 p.m. 

Wren Elementary - Registration: for grades 1-5 is Tuesday, August 2, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.

Kindergarten  registration and orientation is Tuesday, August 2, 5:45 p.m.

Wren High - Registration for Seniors  will be held Tuesday, July 26, 8 a.m.–12  noon.

Juniors – Wednesday, July 27, 8 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.

Sophomores – Wednesday, July 27, 1-4 p.m.

Freshmen – Tuesday, August 2, 6-7 p.m.

Open House is Tuesday August 2, for all students from 7-8:30 p.m.  There will be a brief meeting in the auditorium and then students and parents will be released to visit teachers and classes.  The freshmen are invited to attend a dance from 8:15-10 p.m. on August 2.

Wren Middle - 6th grade orientation and registration (including payment of fees and schedule pick-up): will be Tuesday, August 2, 6-8:30 p.m.

7th & 8th grade registration is set for Wednesday, August 3, 2-7p.m.

Fees will also be accepted July 26 and July 29 8 a.m.-4 p.m. in the main office. 

Activity Fees for the 2005-2006 school year will be High School, $55; Middle School, $25 and Elementary School, $20. The purchase of yearbooks, t-shirts, fieldtrips, etc. are optional.

Voluntary Student Accident Insurance is also available. Markel Insurance Company School Time insurance is $12. School Time with Dentalis $17; Around the Clock insurance is $64. Around the Clock with Dental is $69.

Meeting to discuss Cherokee Rd. bridge replacement

The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has scheduled a public information meeting Thursday, July 21, concerning the proposed bridge replacement on S-75 (Cherokee Road) over US Hwy. 29 in Anderson County.

The meeting will be held between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Beaverdam Baptist Church located at 1904 Beaverdam Road, Williamston. The meeting will have a drop-in type format with displays for viewing.

The meeting is intended to provide information concerning the proposed project and to solicit input from area residents. Personnel from SCDOT will be available to discuss the project with interested citizens on an individual basis.

SCDOT is in the process of developing plans to replace the existing 240-foot long by 31-foot wide bridge on  Cherokee Road (S-75) over US Hwy. 29 in Anderson County as part of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program.  The program is intended to identify bridges determined to be functionally obsolete and/or structurally deficient.

The total length of the project to include intersection improvements, is approximately ¾ mile. Current Average Daily Traffic (2004) is 850 vehicles per day and is expected to increase to 1,200 vehicles by the year 2024.

The new bridge will be constructed along the existing alignment with traffic to be detoured during the construction period. The bridge will provide for  two 12-foot lanes (one in each direction) and a 15-foot two-way left turn lane. The project will also include improvements to the intersections of Cherokee Road and the entrance ramp and exit loop to and from US Hwy. 29, and improvements to the intersection of Cherokee Road with Joe Black Road (S-96). Local area roads will be used for temporary detour routes during construction.

For more information, the public may contact Mike Barbee, Assistant Bridge Project Engineer, (803) 737-2248.

Audit shows West Pelzer financial condition strong

By Stan Welch

 The Town of West Pelzer has received the first audit to be completed under the administration of Mayor Peggy Paxton. It reflects the town’s financial status for FY2003-’04, Paxton’s first year in office.

The audit, conducted by Greene and Company, LLP, describes the town’s financial condition as “strong.” It also lists several highlights including the fact that the government-wide assets of the town increased by more than 4%. In addition, the town’s long term debt was reduced by 83.6%. Total assets of the governmental fund exceeded its liabilities at fiscal year’s end by some $204,110, while the governmental fund balance increased by 5.49%.

The report is also accompanied by a management letter, which defines “material weaknesses”, or conditions which do not reduce the possibility of fraud or error to an acceptable level.

In other words, there are better or more generally accepted methods available than the ones being used.

One weakness cited is the lack of separation of duties. Town clerk/treasurer Beth Elgin is the only employee in the Town Hall with the partial exception of Mike Mahaffey, who frequently is called away from the office in the course of his duties.

This places a number of financial and bookkeeping responsibilities on Elgin, including paying vendors, billing license fees, water and sewer bills, property taxes, as well as collecting those monies, as well as court fines and various other cash receipts. She also prepares payroll, as well as being responsible for the town’s record keeping.

The management letter, while acknowledging  that small towns seldom have the manpower to attain complete separation of duties, strongly recommends trying to reduce those responsibilities, and provide Elgin with assistance whenever possible, saying that such a “concentration of duties in one position gives the potential for fraud to occur and not be detected.”

Mayor Paxton agreed completely with that recommendation, saying, “Beth does everything for us. She does a tremendous job, and has been the key factor in how much our financial performance has improved. No one, including the auditor, has any concerns about her honesty, but the report is right. The responsibilities do need to be spread around some, simply because that’s the smart thing to do.”

She said that both she and Mahaffey try to assume some of those responsibilities whenever they can.

The same suggestion was made in the ‘02-’03 management letter, which also reported significant shortages  ($14,000+) in water bill collections as compared to actual billings.

Failure to deposit such receipts on a daily basis was also cited in that letter, and again in the most recent report. The latest letter refers to the fact that this recommendation has been made for years.

Paxton says that deposits are made several times a week now, but admits there are occasional days when no one can get to the bank to make the deposit.

The ‘02-’03 management letter also challenged the practice of keeping large amounts of cash in the Town Hall.

“Cash on hand is excessive. Such cash is subject to misappropriation and theft,” it states.

The letter also referred to the town’s practice of paying for both its portion of employee’s retirement, as well as the employees’ portion. The letter described that practice as unusual and reported that it cost the town an additional $8,624 during fiscal year ending June 30, 2002.

Also, almost $1500 more was deposited into the S.C. Credit Union than was withheld.

Conversely, almost $3000 more was withheld from employee wages for Christmas Club accounts than was deposited to those accounts.

The latest management letter refers to a large sum of money  which was found in the Town’s safe after the last Clerk Treasurer resigned. The source of those funds could not be identified. The fate of those funds is not indicated in the management letter.

Other issues raised in the management letter will be largely resolved by the purchase of a new software program, according to Mayor Paxton.

“We have reviewed the software that Honea Path uses and it is awesome. It gives you everything you need, from the water bills to all the other financial records. Some Council members have been out to Honea Path to see the software already, while the others are scheduled to go.”

That software will be an agenda item at the Town Council’s July 25th meeting.

Among the issues that are software related are the failure to maintain a record of property tax collections and arrears; water and sewer billings and revenues; and the failure last year to amend the budget to reflect higher expenditures in both the general funds and the water/sewer enterprise fund  than were budgeted.

Neither fund was in deficit; in fact, both still had ample funds in them. The amending of the budget is a routine procedure, intended to reconcile such funds.

Mayor Paxton conceded that during her first year, she was unaware of the differences in business accounting and government accounting.

“I didn’t know I was supposed to amend the budget, but if  I had, our current software wouldn’t provide the figures in time to allow me to do so. We know now what to do, and hope to have the software to do it with soon.”

As to the water/sewer reports of billings and unpaid balances, the letter refers to several incidents prior to the resignation of the former Clerk Treasurer, including the absence of the reports for the months of  January and April, of 2004, as well as the summary page giving the month’s total for February of that same year.

The letter says the auditors cannot confirm whether the unpaid bills were ever collected or not.

The letter also finds numerous problems with the handling of the fines collected by the town court and the police department.

The ‘03-’04 audit shows that fines went undeposited for as long as two months, that the State received its share of the fines as much as five months late, and that reports were haphazard at best.

The Town now uses a program known as PD Manager to help address those problems. That is the same software used by the Anderson  County  Sheriff’s Department to compile its crime reports and statistics.

Mayor Paxton realizes that there is still much work to be done in bringing the Town’s record keeping in line, but adds, “I’m very proud of what we have accomplished, especially in the last year. Beth has been a tremendous asset to the Town, and we expect the next audit to be a great improvement. In fact, the auditor says that the next audit should take much less time to do, because our record keeping is already so much better than it was.”

Francis Branyon, III, who issued the latest management letter, agrees. 

The letter closes by saying, “The Town’s system, which has had problems for many years, was aggravated by the abrupt resignation of the Clerk/Treasurer in May, 2004. The system appears to be operating much smoother currently.”

West Pelzer awaits response from County

By Stan Welch

On March 8, West Pelzer Mayor Peggy Paxton appeared before the Anderson County Council, seeking funding for several needs or projects in the town.

Four months later, she has received no response whatever. “We haven’t heard a thing, wither yes or no. It’s like I didn’t even go over there. I don’t understand that,” said the Mayor speaking in a recent interview.

Among the items she asked for assistance with was $21,000 to be used as matching funds for a $500,000 water improvement grant. District 7 Councilwoman Cindy Wilson had previously managed to reallocate $29,000 from her paving funds in order to secure the grant.

Mayor Paxton also asked council for help in funding a $10,000 software upgrade to be used in the water and sewer billing process, as well as in other aspects of the town’s financial records keeping.  A ground penetrating radar unit, priced at $10,000, to be used in detecting broken water and sewer lines, was also requested; as well as an additional $5000 for repairs to a machine used to repair sewer lines. A $3500 pump for the lift station, another $3500 for an asphalt roller, $6000 for meth lab equipment, and a request for money to purchase a used dump truck rounded out the $59,000 shopping list. The lab equipment would also benefit the county, while the dump truck would be used to serve both Pelzer and West Pelzer.

Paxton, who’s been mayor for two years, says the County has provided help in several instances.

“We do get assistance from them. I can’t complain about that. But it just seems like we would receive some response, some acknowledgment that we were there. These may seem like small things to some people, but they would make a huge difference to our town. We don’t ask for much, and we never ask for anything that we don’t really need.”

Father, son shooting shocks town

By Stan Welch

The sudden deaths of a father and son continue to puzzle West Pelzer and Anderson County law enforcement officials. On Friday, July 16, 59 year old Jimmy Ducworth and his 39 year old son, Doug, both perished in an apparent murder suicide which has shocked the small town.

At approximately 6:50  p.m. on Friday, July 15, West Pelzer Police Chief Bernard Wilson received a call from 911 dispatchers to respond to a domestic disturbance at 1 Marguerite Street. The report said that Donnie Thompson, a neighbor, had heard the older Ducworth threaten to kill both his son and himself. The threats were followed by gunfire.

Upon arrival at the scene, Wilson approached the front door and knocked. Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputy M. Beeco arrived at the scene. The officers walked around the house to the back yard, where they discovered the two men lying on the ground. “One was in the shed, and the other was at the entrance to the shed,” said Wilson, in a recent interview. “Both had suffered gunshot wounds to the head, and there was a .380 handgun on the ground.”

The younger Ducworth was pronounced dead at the scene, while the father was transported by the Pelzer Rescue Squad to Greenville Memorial in critical condition. He would die at approximately 11:45 p.m. the following day.

The evidence  points strongly towards a scenario that has the father shooting his son, then turning the gun on himself. But Chief Wilson stresses that no history of trouble between the men is on the record. “I have never been called to that house on a domestic call, and I have checked with all my officers. They say the same. These were good people.”

Wilson continues to head the investigation, with assistance from homicide detectives with the ACSO. “Sheriff Crenshaw and Chief Busha both came to the scene and made it clear that anything I needed from the Sheriff’s Department, I had it. Their forensics people have worked with ours in gathering evidence. They’ve really helped a lot.”

Chief Wilson understands the direction in which the evidence points, but says, “To be fair and considerate with the family, I am going to eliminate every other possibility before ruling on the cause of this tragedy. It’s currently labeled a death investigation. As soon as I receive the forensics results from SLED, I will make an announcement as to the final determination.”

Funeral services were held on Tuesday, July 19  for both men at Gray’s Mortuary chapel, with burial at the Pine Lawn Cemetery in Pelzer.

 

Four arrested in set-up armed robbery incident

Williamston Police arrested four individuals in connection with an armed robbery which occurred in Williamston recently.

According to Williamston Police Chief David Baker, two men were arrested after two individuals turned themselves in and additional investigation showed two others were also involved.

Charlandus O’Bryan Henry, 106 Tripp St., Williamston, was arrested for armed robbery and possession of a fire arm in the commission of a violent crime after he turned himself in on July 2. A 16 year old juvenile also turned himself in and was charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Upon further investigation, Stinson Ruth, 29, 104 Tripp St., was charged with armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. Also Bobby Demario Blanding, 198 Tripp St., Williamston, was arrested and charged with accessory after the fact and assisting with a felony in connection with the incident.

Ruth and Blanding were arrrested at the Econo Inn, Pleasanburg Dr., Greenville, with assistance from the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and the U. S. Marshal Fugitive Recovery Team.

The incident involved a Williamston area juvenile who reported that after giving two people a ride to East Carolina St., two black males pulled small black handguns and told the victim(s) to empty their pockets and to give them all their money. $800 and a cell phone were taken. The victims were then told to exit the vehicle and give the suspects the keys.

Reports state they began  walking down the roadway and were thrown the keys.

Other incidents investigated recently include: 

July 19 - Miguel Angel Alvarenga, 45, 206 Elan Dr., Piedmont, was arrested for driving under suspension and speeding after a red Ford pickup was observed on Greenville Dr. J. H. Kirby investigated.

July 18 - Timothy Lee Gilbert, 49, 103 Lee St., Williamston, was arrested for assault and battery in connection with an incident occurring at the residence. Sgt. J. H. Kirby investigated.

July 16 - Nancy Henery, 42, 619 Williams, St. Williamston, reported a Pontiac Grand Am valued at $200 stolen. T. A. Call investigated.

July 15 - John Accur, Jr., 22, 104 Metal Mansion, Pendleton, was arrested for public disorderly conduct after a Ford Thunderbird was observed on Belton Dr. with a loud radio. Sgt.  A. B. Singleton investigated.

July 14 - Stephson King, 52, 4 Jehue St., Williamston, was arrested for public disorderly conduct after being observed standing in the road on West Carolina St. Sgt. J. H. Kirby investigated.

July 12 - Christopher McCurley, 9 Gray Dr., Williamston, reported a bike valued at $100 removed form the carport at the residence. J. T. Bauer investigated.

June 9 - Timothy Aron Partridge, 18, 953 Beech Springs Rd., Pelzer, was arrested for forgery in connection with a stolen check which was cashed at BB&T.

July 7 - Dollar General, 526 W. Main St., Williamston, reported a shoplifting incident in which a black male dressed in a green pair of pants and green plaid shirt left the store with approximately $100 in clothing under his shirt. J. T. Bauer investigated.

July 7 - Eduardo Domingo Dearaujo, 34, 3900 East North St., #205 Greenville, was arrested for no S. C. drivers license  and speeding after a Dodge Dakota was observed on Belton Dr.  He presented a Florida drivers license which was suspended. Sgt. J. T. Motes investigated.

July 6 - Jermaine Kendrick Watson, 33, 137 Middleton  Blvd., reported tools valued at $300 taken from a work truck at 104 Tripp St., Cpl. D. W. Bryant investigated.

July 4 - Stacy Lee Glenn, 24, 7 Lopez St., Pelzer, was arrested for simple possession of marijuana after a vehicle was observed driving erratically on Tripp St. Reports state officers found a clear plastic bag containing one gram of a green leafy substance recognized as marijuana. D. S. Nelson, J. H. Kirby investigated.

July 1 - Lisa Nelson, 28, 18 Woodmere Ct., Williamston, reported a 9 mm Highpoint gun valued at $450 stolen. T. A. Call investigated.

June 30 - Donna Williams Sammons, 33, 32 Woodmere Court, Williamston, reported items valued at $1129 including CDs and a stereo faceplate taken from a Nissan at the location. $35 in damage to a rearview mirror was also reported. G. R. Heydrich investigated.

June 29 - Julie Rebecca Rhymer, 32, 105 Pinewood Dr., Williasmton was arrested for driving under suspension after a 1995 Ford Mustang was observed on Anderson Dr. with a healight out. Sgt. A. B. Singleton investigated.

June 25 - Linda Allison Peters, 56, 13004 Hwy. 20, Belton, reported $1500 in damage to a Pontiac Grand Am. The passenger side door had a large dent. It was suspected that the damage was done in the parking lot of JT’s restaurant, 711 Anderson Dr., G. R. Heydrich investigated.

June 24 - Kimberly Finley Ellison, 36, 1 Church St., Williamston, was arrested for driving under the influence, indecent exposure, no drivers license in possession, no registration in possession, no proof of insurance and violation of seatbelt law after officers were dispatched to investigate a 1985 Chevrolet Blazer which had left the roadway and struck a bush at 121 G. St. Williamston. Sgt. A. B. Singleton, G. R. Heydrich investigated.

Copyright ordinance for planning information defeated

By Stan Welch

 A controversial effort to copyright GIS mapping data, as well as other forms of public information, came to nought Tuesday night, as Council refused to give the proposed ordinance first reading approval.

The defeat of the ordinance began with an opinion by County Attorney Tom Martin that the two members of the County Council who are realtors did not need to recuse themselves from considering the proposed ordinance.

Martin said that in his opinion there was no conflict of interest for Council members Cindy Wilson and Michael Thompson.  It was an opinion that would have an immediate impact, since both Wilson and Thompson played key roles in the defeat of the ordinance.

The ordinance attempted to copyright GIS mapping data and related information developed by Anderson County, and specifically the planning department.

Planning Director Jeff Ricketson made an emphatic argument for the ordinance, citing such uses of the information as the publication and sale for profit of road maps and atlases.

Both Ricketson and Martin argued for the ordinance, saying that it was not intended to prevent area realtors from using the information, which would include aerial photos, in their sales activities.

Ricketson said “There is certainly a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about this ordinance, but I say flatly that it isn’t to charge a fee or limit access to this information.

Martin also denied that any part of the ordinance would impact the freedom of information act, or public access to such information.

“Public records cannot be copyrighted. There is simply not a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) issue here,” said Martin.

Wilson strongly opposed the effort, saying, “This ordinance has authority far beyond the area of real estate. It does affect the FOIA. This same issue is currently being litigated in Horry County. We would be foolhardy to pass this until we see the outcome there.”

Ricketson insisted that the ordinance wasn’t intended to charge fees, despite the establishment of a fee structure. He stressed that the intent is to protect the County from the information’s misuses by someone or possible litigation due to the information’s inaccuracy.

Wilson said that attorneys for the South Carolina Press Association, the SC Association of Counties, and the SC Association of Realtors had all reviewed the ordinance and expressed their concerns that it could in fact be used to restrict access to information, as well as to impose fees for access to such information.

She recommended that the ordinance go through a study phase with a possible change in language before it is proposed again.

Councilman McAbee pointed out to Ricketson that maps have been sold and published for many years before GIS technology was available, seemingly suggesting that the protection offered by the copyrighting would be minimal.

“These map makers and other people can get this information from the SCDOT, can’t they?” asked McAbee.

Councilman Larry Greer spoke about intended purposes, citing a recent situation in his district.

“I know a person who wants to open a business in my area. There is an ordinance that requires a fire hydrant within a certain distance of his location. Now the intent of that ordinance is to insure adequate fire protection for him. But the unintended result is an additional cost to this person of $35,000 to get a fire hydrant to that location. As a result, that business probably won’t open. My point is that intended and unintended aren’t always the same.”

Thompson also opposed the ordinance, saying that he understood both Martin and Ricketson’s explanations, but added that they simply didn’t match with the language of the ordinance itself.

After extensive discussion, Councilman Fred Tolly moved to table the ordinance. Such a motion must be voted on immediately and without further discussion. The motion passed by a vote of 4-3, with Thompson in the majority.

 Within seconds, he asked to amend his vote, but Martin suggested instead a vote to reconsider the motion to table.

Thompson made such a motion; Wilson seconded the motion.The vote to reconsider was passed 4-3, with Thompson, Wilson, Greer and McAbee providing the majority. The original ordinance was then brought back to the floor, where it was defeated by the same 4-3 vote.

In other business, Economic Development Director John Lummus announced a $15 million expansion of the MedLine plant in Honea Path.

The plant, which has been in operation since 2003,  used to be the Maxim Medical plant. Plans call for the installation of $14 million worth of new production equipment, and construction of  a million dollar expansion of the plant itself. The expansion will involve 20 jobs, and represents the company’s choice to make Honea Path their home, said Lummus.

The company chose the on site expansion instead of relocating to one of two other sites which were available outside Anderson County.

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, whose district includes the plant, thanked Mr. Lummus and his staff as well as Honea Path Mayor Lollis Myers and his staff. “This is a great day for Honea Path, and a lot of people have worked very hard to make it happen”, said Wilson, who then made the motion to approve the incentive package; which council did unanimously.    

Council also heard a request from Ms. Lib Peace concerning the upcoming celebration of the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII. Peace was seeking co-sponsorship from the County in the form of a $700 donation for a banner to stretch across Main Street, and the free use of the Civic Center for the celebration, which is slated for August 14 at 3 p.m.

Councilman McAbee, upon learning that such funds can only be provided to either a governmental entity or a 501 (c)(3) non profit organization, appropriated $700 from his district’s recreation funds to the Veterans’ Affairs Office, which would administer them.

Council also approved a measure which will allow Anderson County to assume responsibility for flood control in Williamston .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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