(3008) Week of July 23, 2008
Ethanol operation raises
concerns; no permit issued yet
By Stan Welch
An energy company which recently decided to locate an ethanol blending operation in the area of the Belton tank farm has applied for several permits from DHEC. Operations may have already begun, however, even before those permits have been issued.
B & B Properties recently purchased land adjacent to the tank farm and plans to construct a facility for the transporting and blending of gasoline and ethanol, a practice that is rapidly gaining popularity in the face of rising gas prices. That facility will be leased to Lincoln Energy, according to an economic incentive package offered the company by Anderson County.
According to a DHEC official, the company, which also operates a similar facility in Edgefield County, has applied for permits related to construction of storm water management devices at the proposed site, as well as for the required air quality permits.
Those permits were applied for within the last month, but residents in the Cheddar area have reported concerns that the company may have started at least limited operations already.
Their concerns arise from the fact that tanker trucks have been seen entering the defunct PCA facility, also known as the old Bigelow Sanford mill, where the Open Door Church is currently located, on Youth Center Road. Those tankers have apparently been offloading ethanol from a line of tank cars on a side spur between Belton and Honea Path, then transporting it to the PCA location and transferring it there.
An offloading site has been installed at the location of the Greenville & Western Railroad just beyond Belton on Highway 20.
Efforts to contact Lincoln Energy Alternatives President James Farish for comment on his companys current local operations were unsuccessful. Several telephone calls were not returned.
Anderson County Fire Chief Billy Gibson said that he could not comment on what permits might be necessary, but he did talk about the very real challenges that ethanol as a fire hazard poses for area firefighters.
Ethanol as a fire risk is relatively new to firefighters, especially in rural and less populated areas. Ethanol is essentially denatured alcohol and it burns with an extremely high temperature. The first challenge is that you cant put water on an ethanol fire. Its like we were all taught as kids, you dont put water on a grease fire on the stove. Its the same thing.
Gibson pointed out that foam is the best way to attack an ethanol fire, but even then, a special foam is needed. The regular firefighting foam simply cooks off before it smothers the flames, because the heat is so great. It requires a special foam for ethanol. We have begun purchasing such foam, but we have no means of delivering it to the fire.
That delivery method is a foam buggy, which no fire department this side of the GSP Airport has available. There has been talk of Lincoln Energy providing funding for the approximately $45,000 piece of equipment. Alton Thompson, chairman of the board of directors of the Cheddar Fire Department reported that BP Oil has donated $10,000 towards acquisition of a buggy. They have been very generous to us, he said.
At the time the incentive package was offered to Lincoln Energy, District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson suggested that the company might be approached about helping to fund the necessary fire fighting equipment.
DHEC inspector Kari Terry, of the Belton regional office, said that an inspection and inquiry into whether blending operations had in fact begun would be initiated this week.If those reports are true, that would certainly be a serious matter as far as the Department is concerned. Many of the regulations concerning transport are federal and not state, but as far as things like spill containment capability at the site and other issues, such as air quality, we would be very involved in that.
Carl Richardson, of DHECs Columbia offices, reported that the storm water and air quality permits had been applied for on June 24 of this year.The technical review phase of the permitting process is just getting underway, so the issuance of any permits is certainly not pending in the near future.
The company is also currently storing ethanol in the tanks at the former Cothrans P&M gas station on Hwy. 20 in Williamston.
Lincoln Oil received an economic incentive package from Anderson County back in March. County Council, at the suggestion of the economic development department, voted to give the company a fee in lieu of taxes agreement, a twenty per cent special source revenue credit, and inclusion in a multi-county industrial park, thereby providing additional tax relief.
District Four Councilman Bill McAbee did not take part in that vote, due to his business relationship with the Greenville & Western Railroad, which operates the spur line the tank cars are being stored on.
McAbee and his business associate, Amy Plummer, were involved as realtors in the purchase of the proposed site of the facility. B& B Properties purchased the land and plan to lease it to Lincoln Oil.
By Stan Welch
Work on Williamstons Streetscape program got underway this week, as demolition crews began tearing out existing sidewalks to make room for the scenic construction that the town has approved.
The project, which constitutes phase one, will include a design that the Town Council approved in February. Significant changes in the sidewalks in the downtown area will be installed, with bulb out extensions of the sidewalks, as well as planters and landscaping. An additional crosswalk will be installed at the McDonalds to allow easier access to and from the Mineral Spring Park.
Six decorative light posts will be installed. A decision to purchase instead of lease those posts raised the cost of the $105,000 project by an extra $20,000. The Town Council and the Greater Williamston Business Association each appropriated half the additional amount.
I know that the GWBA had also helped fund some of the early studies on this project, but they really stepped forward when the Town needed their support, and we were able to purchase these lights, which we felt would be to our advantage in the long run, said Mayor Phillip Clardy in an interview this week.
Mayor Clardy said the SCDOT had assured the Town that the work would be completed in time for the Spring Water Festival on August 23.Certainly, we expressed our wishes that the people of Williamston and the surrounding areas would be able to enjoy this during the Spring Water Festival. I spoke to some of the site workers this week, and they said they are on schedule. I do know that the concrete to be removed turned out to be much thicker than they thought. It seems the old Highway 29 roadbed ran through here.
The workers are hoping to begin this week pouring the forms for the street side planters that will be part of the design.
There is a lot of work to do but they assure me they will make it, and as soon as we are completely comfortable with that fact, we will work on incorporating a ribbon cutting or some kind of opening ceremony for the first phase of our downtown beautification program, said Clardy.
By Stan Welch
Despite the failure of a proposed animal control ordinance to receive first reading approval at the last County Council meeting, members of the equine community would like to see some formal acknowledgement that horses and livestock are protected in Anderson County as well.
Some would like to see that assurance in the form of an ordinance that adopts state law concerning the treatment and protection of animals, a move they say would authorize county animal control officers to enforce state law. They also say that would remove the burden of enforcement from the Sheriffs Office and place it with the animal control department.
Others, while agreeable to such an ordinance, say it means little or nothing, if the new animal shelter budgeted for this year doesnt include facilities to accept, contain and treat large animals, such as horses and other livestock.
Kari Tankersley, manager of the Clemson University Equine Center, and owner of Twin Tree Farm stables in Pendleton, said that it makes no sense to construct a shelter on twelve acres and not include equine facilities.
What a waste of money that would be. What are they going to do, put in gold toilets for the cats? To build six paddocks, with run in sheds and some other facilities for vet use would take up maybe three or four acres. What are they going to do with all that land? An acre sized building would hold a lot of cats and dogs.
Tankersley wondered what the proposal for funding showed in terms of the facilitys design. Im sure they have plans drawn up, right? How else would they show what they planned to build and what it would cost? No such presentation was made to council during the budget process. The actual size of the shelter in square feet, is still unknown.
Tankersley says between her duties at Clemson University and her private stables, she cares for about a hundred horses at any given time. They take a lot of work, which is one reason we see so many abused and abandoned. But to build this shelter without accounting for the second largest horse population in the state simply makes no sense.
District Two Councilwoman Gracie Floyd has tried twice in two years to pass an amended animal control ordinance. Both her efforts have failed, with a number of those involved in animal rescue, especially of large animals, complaining that the results were confused and convoluted, and failed to give the enforcement authority needed to animal control officers.
The defeat of her proposed animal control ordinance has apparently left her disgruntled, according to several people who say Floyd was rude and intimidating to them when they called her to discuss the failed ordinance.
Karen Rogers, who lives just outside Anderson County, but who has voluntarily accepted some of the mistreated animals seized from Anderson locations, in order to help the animals find refuge, says that she called Ms. Floyd to discuss possible improvements to the ordinance that might help it receive County Council approval.
I asked her why the ordinance didnt include large animals like horses, and she told me I should get my facts straight. She told me that the county has no control over that. She said state law takes care of those animals, which I knew. What I didnt know was why the county didnt just adopt state law so their officers could enforce it.
Rogers, however, says she went to the trouble to verify her information and then called Ms. Floyd back.I told her I was ready to have our conversation now, and she told me if I called her again, shed have me arrested for harassing her.
Rogers said she realizes she doesnt live in Anderson County but added,Thats no reason to be talked to like that. Besides, I never told Ms. Floyd where I lived, so as far as she knew, she was talking to a citizen of Anderson County that way.
Rogers sister, Kristina Rogers, also a horse enthusiast, does live in Anderson County, and while she wasnt threatened with arrest, she said Floyd did hang up on her.
My sister Kristina is big on animal rights, and she gets Mom and I involved too. So I called Ms. Floyd to talk to her. I told her I lived in Anderson County and she told me the ordinance didnt pass. Then, click! She hung up on me. She hung up on my Mom when she called too. Thats not exactly the best way to get people to support your ideas, is it?
By Stan Welch
Progress continues on the new Pelzer EMS station, with a projected completion date of late September, according to Danny Durham, chairman of the Squads board of directors.
The front and back of the metal frame building are currently being bricked in, which will be followed by the beginning of work on the interior.
The 11,000 square foot facility will include five bays with exits on both front and back of the building. It will also include sleeping quarters, a break room with kitchen facilities, training rooms, offices, two full bathrooms, and two half baths.
The upstairs area will be used to store equipment and supplies.
The Pelzer Rescue Squad has been in existence for forty years, and was housed in a building which had seen bay after bay tacked on. The new facility, located adjacent to the ball fields on Highway 20, should meet the squads needs for the forse4eable future, said Durham.
I think this will do us for the next thirty or forty years, he said.
By Stan Welch
The West Pelzer Beautification committee met Monday night, and addressed an ambitious agenda for their efforts on the towns behalf.
Rey McClain, Blake Sanders, and Ann Odom discussed the plans for a $4000 Palmetto Pride grant. Those funds will be used to erect two signs, one at the west end of town and one at the Town Hall. The construction of those signs is mandated by the grant program.
One of the signs will consist of a two foot square brick veneered pillar located adjacent to the fire department site at the west end of town. The decision to place the sign at that end of town was made because a scheduled streetscape project at the east end of town will likely include the construction of signage.
The committee discussed the possible addition of a perpendicularly mounted metal sign to the pillar, welcoming visitors to town, and possibly including a reference to the towns original name of Frankville and its 1913 incorporation date. The sign currently in place at that site will be moved to a location nearer the school.
The sign at the town hall would be much more modest, reserving the majority of the grant for the more visible, public sign. Bids will be sought on the project.
The committee also reviewed a proposal to purchase four large banners to be placed on power poles along Main Street. The banners, proclaiming the towns project G.R.O.W. (Grand Restoration Of West Pelzer), would be two feet wide by six feet high, with the slogan on it, as well as a silhouette of a tree in the lower corner.
The colors would include two shades of green, with the first letter of each word in a medium green with the rest of the writing in a darker green. The tree, which is rendered in silhouette, would be black in color.
Committee member Rey McClain asked town clerk Paula Payton to purchase one of the banners, at a cost of approximately $275, and at his expense. I would like to be able to show the Council what one of these banners will look like, and how good it will look for our town to have them in place.
The committee also discussed a proposed weeds and grass ordinance, which will be presented to the Town Council at their September meeting. The ordinance as proposed would allow the towns public works department to clear or mow the offending property and bill the owner for doing so.
Anderson County Sheriffs Deputies investigated the following incidents in Williamston, Pelzer, Piedmont, Easley and Belton area.
July 18 C. Pridemore responded to 383 Ellison Rd. where James Doolittle reported that someone had taken his SCDOT tractor and driven it two miles down the road and into the woods before returning it to the original location. The tractor was damaged to the tune of approximately $1000.
July 19 Deputy R. Beddingfield and ACSO investigator Lt. Hunter confiscated 233 counterfeit DVDs at the Jockey Lot. Jamal Williams, BM,20s, of Anderson, and Denzel Sherard, BM, 17, also of Anderson were arrested.
July 19 C. Pridemore was dispatched to 320 Murphy Rd. where Charles Griffis reported the theft of his gray 2005 Yamaha 650 motorcycle, bearing SC tag#XY2200, valued at $5500.
July 18 K.J. Winn responded to 726 Lake Rd. where Samuel Swayngham reported that someone had cut one tire on each of his three vehicles. Estimated damage was $225.
July 18 J.J. Jacobs responded to 632 Riley Rd. where Dennis Tench told him that someone had cut one tire on each of his three vehicles. Damage was estimated at $600.
July 20 J.J. Jacobs was dispatched to 107 Col. Johnson Rd. where he received a report from Richard Carpenter that someone had stolen his Briggs & Stratton generator, valued at $650.
July 18 R. Beddingfield responded to 22 Stephanie Circle, where William Grant reported the theft of electronics and other valuables valued at $2500.
July 18 J.T. Foster received a phone call from James McDaniel, of 8 Smith Street who reported he had loaned a female, $125 to buy marijuana. She did not return with the drugs or the money. Foster advised him to pursue the matter in civil court.
July 19 J.J. Jacobs was dispatched to 5 Hale St. where Peter Ide, WM, 64, 245 pounds, reported that a person had come to his house driving a green 1994 Honda Accord with SCNG tag #23818. He was a suspect in a break-in at Ides house a week earlier, according to Ide. They began to argue and the man put on two pairs of brass knuckles. Ide seized a large stick and told him to leave. Ide started beating the vehicle the man and a female were in. The two left the car and fled on foot. The car was found to have a damaged ignition and to be registered to a Kenneth McGaha.
July 20 R.D. Smith responded to 355 Morris Mill Rd. and received a report from Donnie Garrett that someone had killed one of his cows. The loss was estimated at $2500.
July 15 J.J. Jacobs responded to 108 Eugene Court where Daniel Papala reported that he had seen someone in his vehicle and gave chase, tackling him a block or so away. As he was struggling with the suspect, someone ran over him with a moped scooter, possibly yellow. The first suspect was described as 58, WM, approximately 20, with a bald head and a medium build.
July 19 J.T. Bowers responded to Burger King on Hwy. 153 where Dawn Castro reported that two black males in their twenties, wearing bandannas with eyeholes had rushed up to her as she was leaving work at the restaurant and one pointed a gun at her. They asked for the money from the store but she said it was locked inside. They took her purse and car keys but no one was hurt.
July 19 J.T. Bowers was dispatched to 130 Powderkeg Rd. where Jeff Cox reported that he had been attacked by a female friend, who hit him with a picture frame and also grabbed his face, leaving red marks.
July 21 J.T. Bowers responded to 254-A Chafin Rd. where Jeffrey Black reported that someone had damaged his truck by breaking windows and cutting tires. Michael Locke, who also lives at that address, reported that someone had broken into the mobile home and damaged a number of items including a TV, stereo system and large mirror. The damage was estimated at $1500.
July18 J.T. Bowers responded to Hwy. 29 and Cromer Rd. where John Chastain told him that someone had stolen the catalytic converter from his van. The loss was estimated at $500.
July 19 R. Beddingfield responded to 226 Lufkin Rd. where Kenneth Rhodes said that someone had damaged irrigation equipment belonging to him, with damage estimated at $3000.
July 19 J.J. Jacobs initiated a traffic stop on a black Dodge Ram after it ran a Stop sign and subsequently found that Lynn Wellwood, a passenger, was wanted on an active warrant. She was arrested and transported to ACDC.
July 20 R. Beddingfield was dispatched to 219 Gray Dr. where Rickey Frazier reported that someone had stolen the pump, the filter and the hose to his swimming pool. The loss was estimated at $2000.
By Stan Welch
Well, the dust from the primaries and the runoffs for county Council has settled somewhat. So lets take a look and see what we can see, just ahead and on the horizon.
The first thing we see are the shattered pieces of what, for lack of a better term, can be called the Preston majority; those five votes that seldom if ever wavered in their support of county administrator Preston and his agenda. Three of those five lost, another survived a much tougher race than he expected, and the fifth faces a challenger in November.
They left behind, if not an eight hundred pound gorilla, then a pair of four hundred pound gorillas in the person of Cindy Wilson and Bob Waldrep, who consistently challenged Preston and his administration; and who were consistently subjected to actions by the majority designed to isolate and demean them in the publics eyes.
In an election cycle of many surprises, perhaps the greatest surprise was how loudly the voters yelled No at such behavior. The margins of defeat in the three races was even more surprising than the defeats themselves. Nobody squeaked by in any of those three races.
The three who fell were Councilmen Greer, Thompson and McAbee. There were many factors in the defeat of these incumbents, both individually and collectively. Many of the specific actions they took against Councilwoman Cindy Wilson came back to haunt them.
Drafted into service in the power struggle between Preston and Ms. Wilson, they chose what they thought to be the winning side.
They voted to censure Wilson on the most specious of grounds, at the instigation of the administrator, and with the cooperation of the county attorney.
They accused her of illegal acts in connection with the Catergate debacle, when they knew well that the public explanation offered for the events of that night were concocted and contrived. If, and in the absence of indictments so far, I will prudently use the word if, there were any illegal acts committed by members of Council in regards to that presentation, and its subsequent support by Council, Ms. Wilson had no part in them. Others might find that claim more difficult to support.
Still, they chose to take control of her discretionary recreational fund to teach her a lesson about fooling with them. The term most commonly heard for that tactic outside council chambers was stealing. Thats how folks saw it and thats how they voted it.
Again and again this Preston majority, this cabal of the supposedly superior, followed the lead of an administrator who has had more than enough hubris to set himself against an elected official, not once, but in every election since Wilsons first one. These Council members tied their stars, however small and dimly twinkling, to the Preston wagon; and in June, that wagon went over the cliff like a Conestoga in a Roy Rogers movie. It wasnt pretty but it was fascinating to watch.
So we have Cindy Wilson, with a newly and greatly enhanced political stature in Anderson County. We have Bob Waldrep, who came back from the brink of defeat to handily whip the handpicked Preston candidate in a runoff.
The closeness of the primary race between Waldrep and MacKay, the oh so thin margin of victory needed and not attained to close the race out in the first round, may in fact have been the high water mark of the Preston administration.
Gracie Floyd, considered bullet proof by many, and ironically for the same reasons that she thinks people laugh at her (her race and her sex), faces an increasingly broad based challenge from Bill Holder in November. Many of those who worked to break up the Preston monopoly in other districts have turned their efforts and energy to the District two race.
Councilman Ron Wilson, in District Six, won a tough race against second time challenger Rick Freemantle. That victory may prove to be a hollow one indeed, as Wilson faces the grim prospect of building bridges he himself burned by contributing to both Wilson and Waldreps opponents. He also contributed to the opponents of other incoming Council members as well. The reputed agricultural expertise in the Wilson family may be helpful as he tries to figure out the best way to hoe a tough row.
Now, as to the fate of Mr. Preston, the lightning rod of Anderson County politics. Will hebe struck by lightning? Will he prove adaptable enough or tough enough in the clinches to survive this remarkable change in the makeup and tenor of the County Council?
It seems to me that those counting Preston out already are getting a bit ahead of themselves. He possesses a remarkable knack for finding and exploiting the soft spot in those he needs to control. To think that such a result is impossible is to make ones self vulnerable to disappointment.
He clearly faces new and enormous challenges. Whether he can rebuild a majority he can depend on remains to be seen. But the show will definitely be worth the price of the ticket.