News Archive

(2907) Week of July 18, 2007

Council District 7 residents denied requests
Comprehensive land use plan addresses County future
Planning underway for annual festival
Williamston council creates position for administrator
Town reaches agreement with County on sewer capacity
Council members deny violating FOI guidelines
Councilman responds to mayor’s statements
Pelzer finances in good shape
Anderson One receives record number of EIA grants
Wren recognized by SREB
Thefts, fights among incidents reported
Seems to Me . . .Who has the ball?

Council District 7 residents denied requests

By Stan Welch

In a shocking departure from tradition Tuesday night, four members of the Anderson County Council voted to deny every effort, except for one, by District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson to disburse funds from her recreation account.

So blatant and unprecedented were the actions of the four Council members that first terms Councilman Ron Wilson , as well as Chairman Bob Waldrep, publicly expressed their dismay and disgust with those members’ actions.

Three of the four who voted against Wilson’s requests refused to comment on their reasons.

Council members Greer, Floyd and McAbee all declined to offer any explanation of their votes, and quickly left the Council chamber. Councilman Michael Thompson left the Council chamber before he could be questioned.

Events came towards the end of the evening, during the portion of the agenda set aside for Council members to make requests. Each Councilman has a recreation fund to be used at their own discretion.

Since the adoption of restrictions during the last term of Council, limiting the use of paving funds to paving, grading and drainage projects, the recreation funds are the individual member’s primary source of discretionary funds to be disbursed in the district.

It has been an unspoken tradition that each member is free to disburse those funds as they wish, with almost certain unanimous approval.

But Tuesday night, after Wilson listed seven requests, and Chairman Waldrep asked for a show of hands, only Wilson, Waldrep and Ron Wilson raised their hands. Clearly surprised, Wilson offered to make each request separately, in case there was a problem with one of them that had led to the Council’s vote.

As each request was made, it was denied. Greer abstained on the vote for Honea Path, but with that resulting in a tie vote, the request was defeated. Floyd abstained on the vote for the community center, with the same result. Greer also abstained on the vote for the 4-H Club. At the last, Greer changed his vote to approve a $500 appropriation for a senior citizens center. That was the only one of Wilson’s requests which was granted.

Wilson had requested $5000 each for the towns of Williamston, Pelzer and Honea Path. She asked for $4000 for the Caroline Community Center, and a like amount for the Cheddar Youth Center. She also sought $500 for a local 4-H club.

Following her rebuke, Wilson asked county attorney Tom Martin for some guidance on how she is supposed to disburse her funds if council refuses to allow it. Martin replied that he would take the matter under advisement, but Chairman Waldrep offered his opinion that Council did indeed have to approve each  expenditure, in order for the individual funds to avoid being considered slush funds.

Following the votes, Councilman Ron Wilson, clearly angry, addressed Council. “I am incensed by this action. It is disgusting and makes me sick. Any one of us should be able to request what they want to spend in their own district, and have that request approved.”

Speaking to The Journal after the meeting, Wilson said he had no inkling of the four members’ intentions. “When it started, I leaned over to Bill McAbee and asked him what was going on. This is just lunacy.” Wilson was overheard apologizing to Ms. Wilson for the Council’s actions.

Chairman Waldrep, who allowed Wilson to restate her requests, also took pains to make sure everyone knew what was at stake. When Wilson requested the funds for the community center, Waldrep said, “Now this money is for little children who need help, is that right?” When the request was made for the Senior Citizen center, he again stressed, “Now this is money for senior citizens? People over age 65, is that right?” His sarcasm was ineffective in swaying any votes.

Following the second round of votes, Waldrep called the Council’s actions “unprecedented. I’ve never known any Council to do this.”

Later, during the Council members’ remarks, Waldrep said that he was becoming more prayerful as a result of being on the Council. “I am sadly disappointed that a majority of Council has forgotten that we are here to serve those who entrusted us to do so. We are not here for ourselves. I hope that we don’t end up on Dr. Phil someday, but this Council needs some help.”

Ms. Wilson, during her remarks at the end of the evening, said, “I would never do this to any of my fellow Council members, or their people. I would ask for an explanation of your strange behavior tonight.”

Dan Harvell, of the Anderson County Taxpayer’s Association, and a long time ally of Ms. Wilson, spoke to Council during citizens’ remarks, and took them to task for their behavior. “I have seen countless acts of rudeness by this Council, including earlier tonight. But this action is unbelievable. You all sit up there and claim to serve all the people of the county, but that is not true and you have blown that idea out of the water tonight. Your action here is proof that you don’t care about the people of this county. It is childish and it is an embarrassment to the people of Anderson County.”

Several members of the audience yelled at Council in protest and walked out of the chamber. Regular observers of the Council remarked that they had never seen such an action by the Council. “I’ve been coming to meetings for many years,” said one person who asked not to be identified. “I’ve seen some strange things, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Ms. Wilson, asked whether she thought the votes were retaliation for her alleged association with a key figure in SLED’s investigation into Catergate, said she simply did not know. “I really have no clue what caused this. It hurts me that this Council would take an action to deny the people of my District access to their own money, but why they did it, I do not know.”

Comprehensive land use plan addresses County future

By Stan Welch

In a meeting marked by controversy (see related story elsewhere in this issue), the Anderson County Council talked a great deal about planning and preparing for the future. Along the way, they gave first reading approval to the County’s comprehensive land use plan, while struggling with several rezoning requests.

The comprehensive land use plan was presented by planning director Jeff Ricketson as a blueprint for the future. It contained demographic information about the county and its population, its traffic patterns, the growth of the county, which remains steady at approximately two per cent annually.

Ricketson said that that growth rate will carry Anderson County’s population past the two hundred thousand mark in the year 2010.

The plan also revealed that Anderson County’s economic base has shifted significantly from manufacturing to a service oriented economy in the last few years. A shift in housing construction patterns indicates that more and more multi-family housing is being built.

Councilman Michael Thompson challenged Ricketson, saying that the plan simply wasn’t a plan. “You have a lot of information in here about the problems we face, but I don’t see any plan here to deal with them.” Thompson was specifically concerned with the area’s deteriorating air quality.

Ricketson said the county is the victim of geography, and that much of the air pollution it experiences actually comes from the Atlanta megalopolis.

“There are millions of cars there, and the pollution rises and is blown downwind to our area,” said Ricketson. He added that Anderson County’s pattern of sprawl into the rural areas also contributes to that problem.

“We have tens of thousands of cars on the roads in this county every day, and they all add to the one problem as well.”

Ricketson gave a glimpse of the county’s strategy for dealing with that pattern of expansion into the rural areas. “We are making great progress on the construction of our sewer system. We will have to utilize our sewer investment if we are to achieve the density of population that we will need if we are to ever support mass transit system.”

Ricketson acknowledged Thompson’s concerns, saying the plan is a series of goals. “If this plan is adopted, then Council will have to change the ordinances necessary to implement it.” Council gave first reading approval by a vote of 5-1-1, with Thompson opposed and Floyd abstaining.

Prior to Ricketson’s  presentation, Council had given third reading approval to a rezoning of approximately 12 acres at the corner of Edgebrook and Concord Roads in the Hopewell district, despite concerns about the impact of the additional traffic. Also approved was a rezoning of approximately 69 acres near the intersection of Midway Road and Crestview Road.

Several other zoning requests were also presented for first reading approval. One such request might eventually result in a change in the county zoning ordinance itself. The request was for a change in zoning from C1N, which allows certain businesses, to a C2 designation, which would allow the operation of a car wash, which the applicant wanted to operate, at an existing convenience store at the corner of Hopewell Road and Highway 81.

The site is close to several homes, and the owners of some of those homes appeared to oppose the request, saying that the hand operated car wash, which was closed by county officials when it was reported by citizens, is an eyesore. They also argued that the C2 designation could also lead to a number of undesirable businesses at that site, in the event that the car wash failed or the site changed hands. Councilwoman Cindy Wilson suggested tabling the motion to allow the parties to work on some of the issues, but her motion was defeated.

Within minutes, Councilman Greer made a motion to table in order to allow time for an amendment to the zoning ordinance to be amended to allow car washes under the C1N, or commercial neighborhood, designation. This time the motion was successful.

Councilman Ron Wilson called that decision a grave mistake. “We ask volunteers to sit on these advisory boards and make judgments, based on the rules in place. Now, we are going to circumvent those rules and the decisions made by the very people we asked to serve. That seems wrong to me.”

 Both citizens’ advisory boards had voted to disapprove the zoning change to C2.

Council also gave third reading approval to a fee in lieu of taxes agreement with Watson Engineering, a firm which is opening a local branch in the Piedmont area.

Council later refused to extend the time allotted for a presentation on the need for turn lanes which was requested by Councilwoman Wilson. The refusal to allow the presentation to continue was apparently a precursor to the controversial votes taken by Council later in the meeting. (See related story elsewhere in this issue.) Wilson had consistently promoted the use of turn lanes or accel/decel lanes at the entrances to new developments as a safety measure.

Planning underway for annual festival

The Spring Water Festival will celebrate its 26th year of providing a fun filled family event when it is held on Saturday, August 25 in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park.

The Springwater Committee, a committee of volunteers which organized the festival last year, will again take responsibility for the annual event and will continue the tradition with the support of the town officials.

The Springwater Committee is  chartered with the State of South Carolina and has a 501C3 non-profit status.

Proceeds from the festival go toward improvements in the park and to fund the town’s other special event, the Christmas Park, held each year in December.

David Meade will  chair the festival. Co-chair is Steve Ellison. Other committee members include Jim Barnes, treasurer; Barbara Davis, secretary; Ellen Harvell, crafts; Dianne Lollis, displays/children’s entertainment; Catlin Tierce, gospel stage; Jack Ellenburg, Bluegrass stage; Jim Riddle, food; Mark Pitts, souvenirs;  Shirley Pace, Kenneth Bearden, Joe and Diane Greco. Thomas Addison is providing artwork for the festival T-shirt. The Williamston Police Department and the State Guard will provide traffic control and security.

A new event, the Spring Water Festival Junior Miss Pageant will be held at 11am on the amphitheater stage.  There will be four age divisions:  (0-2years) (3-4 years) (5-6 years) and (7-8 years).  Each contestant will receive an award.  The cost is $15 to enter, and the deadline is August 4.  Entry forms may be picked up from Debra’s Designs or The Journal or call Sherri Cole at 864-847-5501 for more information or to have an entry form mailed to you.

The 2007 Spring Water Festival will feature a Spring Water Run, being organized by Chris Bradberry and Renee Rowland. Persons interested in participating in the event can pick up an entry form at The Journal in Williamston, Nationwide Insurance in Belton or call Bradberry at 864-420-3282.

Local crafters who would like to display handmade items for sale at the festival are also invited to participate. Contact Ellen Harvell at 847-5588.

This year’s festival will feature expanded hours, from 10 a.m to 8 p.m. with special stage entertainment later in the evening.

The festival will again feature one of the upstate’s largest antique and classic auto shows, being sponsored by the Williamston Fire Department. To register contact Steve Ellison at 864-847-4950.

The Spring Water Committee will meet Thursday, July 19 at 7 p.m. at the Williamston Fire Department to finalize plans for the upcoming festival.

Williamston council creates position for administrator

Williamston Town Council took the first step toward having an administrator help run the town by creating the position and a salary range during their meeting Monday.

Council also approved first reading on an amended budget reflecting a 4 mill increase and an agreement with Anderson County concerning sewer capacity.

Acting on a motion by Councilman Otis Scott, Council unanimously agreed to create the position of town administrator with a salary range of $45,000 to $50,000 annually. Funding for the position will come from the town’s contingency fund.

After the first reading vote, there was considerable discussion about the position.

Town Attorney Richard Thompson said, “You can hire an administrator to assist the mayor in his duties. It could help with smooth operation of the city.”

Thompson said an administrator would handle administrative and personnel issus. He said according to code, Council could limit the areas of responsibility.

He also added that it is council’s responsibility to set policy and that the mayor has executive responsibilities

“The mayor and administrator would be responsible for implementation,” he said, “to manage the day to day routines.”

“There is going to be a period of adjustment. The administrator shouldn’t be involved in politics. It should be a non political position.”

Town officials hope to have a job description by the August 6 meeting and will advertise the position after that.

Council also unanimously approved first reading on an ordinance authorizing an agreement with Anderson County concering capacity in the town’s waste water treatment plant.

Under the agreement the town will repay Anderson County $73,756 for the town’s past use of County Capacity at the town’s waster water treatment plant (WWTP). (See seperate story)

Council approved first reading on the amended 2007-2008 budget. Second reading and a public hearing is set for the August 6 meeting of Council.

At the request of Councilman Middleton, the budget as was amended to include $6,240 for raises in the water and street department and the resulting changes in FICA.

With the 4.0 mill increase over the budget approved June 28, the millage rate is 110 mills.

Council unanimously set hours for Mineral Spring Park to be from sunrise until 10 p.m. based on recommendations of the Parks Department head and Police Chief.

There was brief discussion about allowing the police chief some discretion on closing the park and allowing for special hours during the Christmas season.

Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. presented an example of a commemorative plaque to display the town’s old city hall bricks which will be offered for sale.

Council will decide at the Aug. 6 meeting whether to offer mounted bricks or individual bricks.

Council unanimously approved five responses to be sent to the auditor to allow completion of the 2006 audit.

The responses address five areas of concern mentioned in the audit.

Councilman Carthel Crout responded to statements made by the mayor last week in The Journal.

“This Council has more concerns to worry about that the issue we are forced to address concerning our mayor and his lack of job performance and untruths,” Crout said. “I don’t like wastin gthe time of this council and the citizens of Williamton. But, i have received so many phone calls and emails concerning these Town issues, expecially the issues of nt being truthul. Just because the mayor says something or is quoted in the newspaper does not make it the truth.” (See separate story).

When asked by the mayor for a copy of the statement, Crout said he will consider it.

After asking Council to allow him to speak later on the agenda, which they did, Willie Wright urged council to apply for a grant for sidewalks on Greenville Drive. which he said “are much needed.”

He also asked about progress for a grocery store and if the town would dismiss the late fee on the current water/sewer bill because they were sent out late by the town.

Mayor Clardy responded that they were looking options that the new billing software allows including adding a phone number and possible wards to water bills.

He said phone numbers would allow the town to call a customer before being cutoff.

He said a grant will be submitted as Phase 2 of the sidewalk project.

Acting on a motion made by Councilman Middleton, Council agreed to put the town’s time capsule back into the ground during the Spring Water Festival on August 25.

The town’s street and water department heads will be asked to recommend a place for the capsule which was recently dug up from the old city hall property. Middleton expressed concerns that the capsule may not fit in the location previously designated in front of the Municipal Center. The capsule is being stored in a secure location on town property, according to Middleton.

Council was scheduled to go into an executive session to discuss biweekly payroll but the issue was put off to the August 6 meeting after a reporter for The Journal questioned how the topic  fell under the FOI guidelines.

Mayor Clardy responded that if specific personnel information was to be discussed it would qualify, but stated that he didn’t place the topic on the agenda.

Councilman Scott indicated that he had placed it on the agenda and after a brief discussion requested that the topic be addressed in open session at the Aug. 6 meeting. Council agreed 4-0.

The town attorney stated he wanted to address three other topics in executive session which were not on the agenda.

They were sales tax being collected at the Spring Water Festival, delapidated housing and an unknown contractural matter.

The sales tax was discussed briefly in open session.

Thompson stated that if a vendor was already paying the tax, they should collect it.

When The Journal reporter questioned the sale tax issue being an executive session topic, the attorney responded that it fell under legal matters.

Town reaches agreement with County on sewer capacity

Williamston Town Council unanimously approved first reading on an ordinance authorizing an agreement with Anderson County concerning disputed use of capacity in the town’s waste water treatment plant.

Under the agreement the town will repay Anderson County $73,756 for the town’s past use of County capacity at the plant which resulted from the addition of two apartment buildings and some industrial waste from a mill located in the town.

According to the agreement, the county has a reserved capacity of 300,000 gallons per day at the plant dating from an agreement made with the town January 2, 1987.

According to SCDHEC flow inventory for the town, the base daily flow was found to be 783,750 gallons per day as of June 1996. The plant is permitted to handle one million gallons per day. 

As a result, the remaining capacity of 216,250 gallons was less than the county purchased capacity of 300,000 gallons which was supposed to be held in reserve until or unless the County authorized its use.

According to the agreement, the town will pay $73,756 to the county for the capacity that was used. In anticipation of the actual numbers, the town has already been paying $3,000 per month to Anderson County since January.

The agreement states that the town’s WWTP was 70,000 gallons over capacity on paper, with about half of that amount caused by infiltration. Park View apartments and Minor and Middleton Apartments were the balance of 35,230 gallons of the 70,000.

The town calculated that it had taken in approximately $73,756 in sewer revenue from the apartments through December 31, 2006.

The current sewer income from the portion of Minor and Middleton Apartments in use and all of Parkview Apartments is $1,641 per month which will go to Anderson County for use of their capacity at the plant.

The remaining $1,359 of each month’s $3,000 payment will go towards paying off the past usage of Anderson County’s capacity until the WWTP upgrade is complete.

The agreement also indicates that unmetered industrial wastewater from Mount Vernon Mills resulted in some use of the County capacity.

 A flow meter is being installed so that Mount Vernon Mills can be billed on actual discharge into the system.

Once the town collects six months of accurate flow readings, the agreement will be revisited to establish how much Mount Vernon and the town owe the County for past, current and future use of County capacity.

The agreement clears up other questions, stating that the county has not permitted any other entity including Williamston, to use their stated capacity without adequate consideration by the County.

It states that the town committed portions of the County’s capacity to other uses and received income and/or benefit.

The agreement states that the Town of Williamston is responsible for any future increases in the cost of plant operation and maintenance as well as future costs for plant upgrades to meet all EPA and DHEC discharge requirements.

The agreement states that the town is responsible for cost of any upgrades and that any associated costs should be repaid equally by all users of the system through user fees.

A public hearing and second reading will be held on the ordinance at the August 6 meeting. The agreement must also be finalized by the County.

Council members deny violating FOI guidelines

By Stan Welch

Members of the Williamston Town Council deny charges by Mayor Phillip Clardy that they have been violating the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act.

“To the best of my knowledge, we have never had an illegal meeting,” said Ward One Councilman Carthel Crout. “Do we sometimes have quorums present outside the Council chambers? Yes, for example, when we attend municipal association meetings. But we don’t discuss or act on any town business.”

Ward Two Councilman and mayor pro tem Otis Scott agrees, saying, “We haven’t been meeting or taking polls on the telephone. That’s just not true.”

The question arose recently when it was revealed that Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. had exhumed the Town’s time capsule and relocated it to another place, awaiting it’s reburial during the Spring Water Festival.

Responding to that announcement, Mayor Clardy  told The Journal that he thinks the Council has been circumventing the state laws on open meetings. He referred to telephone polling as well as impromptu or casual meetings by three or more members of Council. All the scenarios described by Clardy could constitute violations of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act. But depending on circumstances, such incidents might not automatically violate the law. Section 30-4-70 of the SCFOIA addresses the issue, saying, “No chance meeting, social meeting, or electronic communication may be used in circumvention of the spirit of requirements of this chapter to act upon a matter over which the public body has control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.”

The section allows such chance meetings so long as no business is conducted or any votes taken. It is intended to address situations where quorums of public bodies meet to make decisions and take actions they don’t want to take in public.

No member of Town Council denies that such chance meetings take place, or that they talk with each other on the telephone. But they do deny using those methods to conduct the town’s business inappropriately.

“Nobody’s ever called me on the phone about anything to do with the Town, says Ward 3 Councilman David Harvell. “We’ve all been to training sessions that are required to be certified as Council members, and they told us about the FOIA. Now, maybe we could use a refresher course, but we’ve never held illegal meetings.”

As to the time capsule, Harvell says he heard about it afterwards, but nobody called or talked to him about doing it.

Crout agrees, saying that “Marion Middleton didn’t call anyone about doing that, so far as I know. He sure didn’t call me. He just went and did it. I still don’t know where it’s at, and don’t want to. I have been assured that it’s on town property.” He also said that the Council had all received instruction on the FOIA. “We know the law. I believe we are trying to follow the law. I know I am.”

Councilman Middleton denies any secret meetings, or improper actions. “I have no clue what the Mayor is talking about. There have been no secret meetings, no telephone polls, and no secret votes, because those things are all illegal. I think he got his feelings hurt during the budget process because he got hammered on the budget pretty well.”

Middleton says that the Mayor’s expressed concerns about the practice of having three signatures on the checks issued by the Town are unfounded. “We have three signatures, but we are never there at the same time, signing the checks. The decision to spend the money was made when we passed the budget. All we’re doing by signing the checks is exercising our oversight. If the Mayor is trying to go back to the days when he alone signed checks, that isn’t going to happen.”

Councilman responds to mayor’s statements

During the meeting of Williamston Town Council Monday, Councilman Carthel Crout responded to statements made by the mayor last week in The Journal.

“This Council has more concerns to worry about than the issues we are forced to address concerning our mayor and his lack of job performance and untruths,” Crout said. “I don’t like wasting the time of this council and the citizens of Williamton. But, I have received so many phone calls and emails concerning these Town issues, expecially the issues of not being truthful. Just because the mayor says something or is quoted in the newspaper does not make it the truth.”

Crouts statement went on to say, “The Mayor is quoted as saying he spent many hours with the accountant preparing the 2007 and 2008 budget when the council was not present. This is not true. We were given last year’s budget in the middle of June. The four council members, Otis Scott, David Harvell, Marion Middleton, Jr. and myself along with Michelle Starnes, the town treasurer and Renita Owens, our accountant spent around 12 hours making the 2007-2008 budget. The Mayor was only present for 1 and 1/2 hours of this time and contributed nothing to the budget process.

The Mayor has NEVER talked to the council about Mayor/Council responsibilities. NEVER. The council knows the Mayor/Council responsibilities. We would love to operate the way a strong Mayor form of government is supposed to work. We are waiting on the Mayor to do his part.

We have not taken secret phone polls, had secret hallway meetings and or secret meetings of any type. This is not true.

I asked one month ago for a copy of liens placed on personal property by the Town prior to destruction of the property. I have not received this information.

Council has asked for a list of grants for and/or received from 2000 to present several times. We have yet to receive this information.

The Mayor was instructed three months ago to meet and talk with the labor attorney about a personnel issue. To date this report has not been received by this council. This directive has not been done.

The final section of the 2006 audit that was to be completed two months ago by the Mayor has not been completed by the mayor. Council has completed this task and it is to be voted on tonight. This is another example of the Council having to do the Mayor’s job.

Council has been accused of having an unlawful check requisition policy. This is not true. Check requisitions are being completed according to the law.

Council has been accused by the Mayor of not understanding the Freedom of Information Act. This is not true. Council has forgot more about the Freedom of Information Act than the Mayor will ever know.”

(During the meeting Crout referred to the town having been sued for information not provided to citizens under the state FOI.)

“I accept the Mayor’s challenge for a retreat,” ths statement said. “I suggest a retreat at ACOG.. I am sure this entire council will accept this challenge. Just give us a date, time and place. I welcome it with excitement and look forward to a retreat. Mayor lead this Town or move over and get out of the way.”

Pelzer finances in good shape

By Stan Welch

The town of  Pelzer will enjoy a budget surplus of approximately $45,000 for the budget year 2007-2008, according to figures prepared by Town Clerk Skip Watkins.

As usual, water, sewer and trash revenues provide a large part of the Town’s money, with water revenues leading the way at $125,843.That figure reflects no change in the billing rate. Sewer revenues are projected at $98,749, while the trash revenues are expected to be $31,438, based on last year’s receipts.

 Rental income and franchise fees will generate an additional combined $39,262, and revenues received from the Municipal Association of South Carolina will add another $75,480 to the Town’s coffers. Total revenues are projected at $479,850.

Just as utilities provide the bulk of the Town’s revenues, those same services consume the majority of those revenues. Water expenses for daily operations are projected at $109,112 while daily operations in the sewer department are expected to reach $498,864. With salaries and other expenses added in, the total cost of the utilities comes to $267,908.

Total expenses, including streets and highways, parks and recreation, and other administrative costs, are projected at $434,254.

Anderson One receives record number of EIA grants

The 2007 EIA Teacher Grant list for Anderson School District One will include more unit grants than ever before and a new record high total funding of $130,653, school officials said this week.

John Pruitt, Director of Secondary Education for Anderson One stated, “Our teachers are so gifted when it comes to pleading the case for their students.  The money from these grants goes directly into the classrooms and student materials for instruction.  The district and our communities have a great deal to be proud of when it comes to our teachers and the extras they do for our students.”

The EIA Teacher Grant program was established by the SC General Assembly and is funded annually as a part of the state education budget.

The funds are set aside for the express purpose of assisting teachers with classroom instruction by allowing the purchase of technology, materials and supplies, field trips, educational travel that supports instruction, or sponsoring professional speakers for assemblies or classroom visits.  In order to receive funding, teachers must submit a detailed grant proposal outlining the activities they wish to have funded. 

Along with this, they must give specific information about expected outcomes, methods of evaluation, and proposed further study beyond the current grant that may be enabled by its funding.

Two-thirds of the grants submitted by Anderson One teachers were funded with Cedar Grove Elementary leading the way with $37,166 in teacher grants.  Wren High School followed with almost $26,000 in funding predominantly in the area of science.

“A second-year faculty member, Dr. James Whisenhunt, has been very influential in the production of grants by this staff.  He has encouraged them by his example of success as well as his willingness to assist them with their proposals.  It often takes an individual to spark this sort of interest among a faculty.  Success, in this case, truly does breed success!” Pruitt said.

Wren recognized by SREB

Wren High School was among two high schools in the state that have been selected as national High Schools That Work Pacesetter Schools.

Wren and the Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology in Myrtle Beach were selected based on the success of local school leaders and teachers in improving school practices and raising student achievement, a new release said.

Awards were presented to school officials by Dave Spence, president of the Southern Regional Education Board, at SREB’s High Schools That Work Staff Development Conference in New Orleans.

The schools are two of only 20 high schools in the nation receiving Pacesetter Awards in 2007.  Spence praised both South Carolina schools for their achievement, pointing out that it takes dedication and hard work on the part of state, district and school leaders and teachers to make progress in preparing students for college and a career in an increasingly competitive world. He presented the awards before a conference audience of more than 7,000 educators from across the nation.

To earn the Pacesetter award, schools deeply implement the High Schools That Work school improvement design, teach students a rigorous curriculum linked to a specified program of high school study, have high achievement and completion rates, and meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) criteria of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

“These schools have shown what can be accomplished to raise student achievement by deeply implementing the High Schools That Work model for strengthening curriculum and instruction,” said Gene Bottoms, senior vice president of SREB and founder of HSTW. “The schools illustrate the spirit of change and the gains in performance that High Schools That Work advocates and supports through assessment, staff development and technical assistance.”

More than 1,100 high schools in 32 states participate in SREB’s High Schools That Work school improvement initiative. The HSTW initiative is the nation’s first large-scale effort to engage state, district and school leaders in partnership with teachers, students, parents and the community to equip all students with the knowledge and skills needed to graduate from high school and succeed in college and the workplace.

For more information on High Schools That Work and school improvement efforts in your state, contact SREB Communications.

SREB, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, advises state education leaders on ways to improve education. SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to help leaders in education and government work cooperatively to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region. SREB has 16 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Each is represented by its governor and four gubernatorial appointees.

Thefts, fights among incidents reported

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputy D.W. Davis investigated a report of grand larceny from West Pelzer Municipal Judge Roger Scott, concerning the theft of a number of truck rims from his yard, located at 27 Mills Street. The rims, as well as other items taken form the scene were valued at $5350.The report was entered on July 14.


July 13 – D.W. Davis responded to 13 Conners St. where Crystal Bennett, 19, reported that her brother had hit her with his fist, following an argument.

July 14 – R.E. Callahan received a report from Peggy Mason, WF, 72, of 103 Creekwood Court, who stated that she believed that while she was in the hospital her daughter and her boyfriend had forged the title on her mobile home and sent it in for registration. Mason was given a victim’s form but no arrest was made at the time.


July 13 – B.K. Baxter responded to 101 South Fox Circle, where he investigated the breaking into of a vehicle owned by Stephanie Giles. A CD player was missing.

July 13 –P.D. Marter was dispatched to113 Smith Dr. where Tina Childress reported the theft of forty dollars in cash from her car during the night.

July 13 – P.D. Marter responded to 105 Seigler Rd. where Robert Worley reported that he had observed a subject, WM, in his 20’s in a small blue car behind his, Worley’s, garage. He stopped him and asked what he was doing and was told he was looking for water because his car was overheating. He was wearing a red cap and had black hair. Worley later discovered that a Beretta .22 pistol was missing from his car.

July 13 – P.D. Marter was dispatched to River Road Baptist Church in reference to a break in. A window was broken and blood was left behind, indicating the subject cut himself. Efforts to steal a safe were unsuccessful due to the weight of the safe.

 July 14 – T.J. Burgess was dispatched to Shadow Moss Dr. where Gary Haar reported that someone had slashed one of the tires on his car. Damage was estimated at $55. Two other neighbors also reported slashed tires on their cars as well.

July 14 – T.B. Dugan responded to Santee Dr. in response to a call of a disturbance. Two subjects were found looking through their vehicle, apparently searching for their keys. Both appeared to be intoxicated or under the influence of some unknown substance. Louiza Blue Arrowood, WF, 19, of Anderson, and Robert Chase Reid, WM, 21, of Easley were arrested for public disorderly conduct and transported to ACDC.

July 14 – T.B. Dugan was dispatched to Anderson Meats Grocery Store where someone had thrown a cement block through a glass door to gain entry. Dugan cleared the building for suspects, finding none. The store’s owner, Hugh Anderson, arrived and determined that nothing was missing.

July 16 – T.B. Dugan responded to Piedmont Road where Kevin William Smith reported that someone had driven by in a white Dodge truck with a paper tag and thrown a rock or piece of concrete at his vehicle, damaging both passenger side doors and the front fender. Damage was estimated at $2000.

July 16 – D.W. Davis received a report of damage to Lisa’s Cafe’, resulting from broken windows in the store.


July 13 – D.W. Davis responded to 113 Beaverdam Rd. in reference to an assault report. Steven Rickets, WM, 39 5’11", 160 pounds, claimed that he had gotten into an argument while shooting pool and was punched in the face, breaking his nose.  Davis was going to present the case to a magistrate.


July 13 – E.B. Nubern was dispatched to 4519 Belton Hwy. where Charles Taylor and Reggie Mucci reported that someone had cut the locks off their respective storage units.  Neither man reported anything missing from their units.

July 14 – R.M. Cooper responded to 9400 BHP Hwy. where James Fillingham reported the theft of a maroon 1989 Ford Ranger pickup truck from the parking lot of the Angel Food Ministries parking lot. The truck had been parked there for several months with a For Sale sign on it.

July 15 – C.L. Nimmons was dispatched to 1937 Amity Rd. where he received a report of burglary from Marvin Gear. Gear stated that he found the door of his home kicked in and two firearms missing from  the house. The two guns were a Remington 12 gauge Model 700 and a Marlin lever action .22 rifle.

Seems to Me . . .Who has the ball?

By Stan Welch

Nothing stops a ball game like having no ball to play with.

Remember playing ball with your buddies as a kid? Everything would be going along fine, everybody having lots of fun, and then one of the big kids would hit the ball into the neighbor’s yard.

Ordinarily, you’d just send the right fielder go get the ball, and keep playing. But sometimes, the neighbor has a big old dog in the yard, and the kid playing right field says he’s not going in that yard for that ball. He’s pretty sure he’ll get bit. In fact, everybody has heard that dog growl before, and he growls pretty loud. If he bites as hard as he growls, somebody could get hurt.

But if you don’t get that ball back, then the game stops. That’s a real problem, and it’s one that the Town of West Pelzer is facing.

The town has a problem, like a lot of other towns and cities. They have a lot of vacant properties in town that no one cares for. Some of those properties have buildings on them, buildings that are falling down, or that attract people looking for a place to get into mischief. Some have high weeds and junk cars and trash and debris. They are eyesores, and in many cases, actual health risks. More than anything else, they make the town look trashy and low rent.

Now Town Council has been trying to do something about this for years. They had an ordinance that they tried to enforce, but it was determined to be too general in language and too toothless in terms of enforcement to do any good. So the town adopted some language from the county’s ordinance, and they added a little more language of their own. And they got a stronger, more specific law to help them enforce the cleanup of these ugly and dangerous sites.

Among the new aspects of the ordinance is a better definition of the standards for appearance. There is also a provision that will allow the town to clean up the mess themselves, if the property owner won’t do it when asked to by the town. That provision would let the town do the work, and bill the property owner. If they don’t pay the bill, it is attached as a lien to the tax bill for the property, requiring that it be paid when the taxes are paid, or the property can be auctioned off.

The Council gave first reading approval to that ordinance a couple months ago, then reviewed that proposed ordinance at a work session several months ago. Some minor changes were made in the language, and it was expected that it would be approved at the next meeting of Council.

It appeared as if the Council had a good, solid hit. But it apparently curved foul and ended up in that big dog’s yard. At the meeting where the ordinance was supposed to be mildly amended and passed, it instead was sent back to the drawing table. Newly elected councilman Jimmy Jeanes was concerned that the requirements of the ordinance would impose a hardship on some people in the town. Actually, laws are designed to impose hardships if they aren’t obeyed. That’s how you get people to obey them.

The Mayor and council all talked about how the town and the townspeople would all help their neighbors who needed it and they talked about how the law had to enforce equally and they talked about a lot of things. But finally, they talked about that big dog that had their ball, and how they weren’t sure how to get it back. Or even if they could get it back.

Apparently one land owner has made it clear to at least some council members that he doesn’t acknowledge their authority in the matter of whether or not he cleans up a sizable tract of land he owns within the Town’s limits.

That tract was slated for development back before DHEC put the town under a consent order due to the condition of its sewer system. That consent order interfered with the development plans, and years later, the site has become a bit of an eye sore.

Mayor Paxton thinks that the DHEC consent order doesn’t apply to residential development, but no one seems top know for sure. The town has tried to persuade, and later, require the property owenr to address the problem. He has declined to do so, and since he is the big dog that he is, nobody has wanted to go in his yard and get their ball back.

The problem is that without a ball, the game stops. So no one else can be required to clean up their eye sores either. So one property owner, who has been heard to growl about this situation, but who hasn’t bitten anyone yet, seems to be holding up the game.

If he is angry about the consent order, then all efforts should be made to get a ruling on what it actually prohibits, and he should be told.  If he is simply opposed to being told what to do with his property, then that is understandable; but it is well established in law that a municipality can establish standards of appearance and enforce them.

Perhaps the property owner could perform the clean up on his property cheaper and better than the Town could. He surely has access to the necessary equipment. Seems to me that such a gesture would be entirely in keeping with his tradition of service to the town, and would allow other, less concerned citizens to be brought to task for their failure to clean up their eye sores and health risks.

And it would let the kids get their ball back so the game can go on.





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