News Archive

(3106) Week of Aug. 2, 2006

Local man charged in double shooting
West Pelzer retreat positive, officials say
Options being considered for treatment plant upgrade
Town taking steps to address concerns with treatment plant
Extreme temps result in energy sharing measures
Williamston Council holds worksession
District One Board approves new hires
County Clerk, deputy clerk give insight into reassignment
Spring Water Run returns
Seems to Me . . .Who’s accountable?

Local man charged in double shooting
South Greenville

By Stan Welch

Brandon Heath Clark, a 21 year old Pelzer man wanted in connection with a double homicide that occurred on Garrison Road in South Greenville County last weekend, surrendered to authorities just hours after warrants were issued for his arrest.

According to Lt. Shea Smith, of the Greenville County sheriff’s Office, Clark turned himself in to the authorities in the early morning hours Monday. He was arrested and charged with two counts of murder and  possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

Clark, a WM, 5’8", 210 pounds, of 160 Holcombe Road,  was charged with the killing of Christopher William Garland, 26 year old WM, of 467 Eastview Road in Pelzer, and Kamron Jack Wade, 21 years old, WM of 107 Dawn Court in Easley. The two men were shot and killed while sitting in a 1991 Honda Accord. Garland was found shot in the chest, seated in the driver’s seat, while Wade died of a gunshot wound to the head.

According to Lt. Smith, the three men knew each other prior to the incident which took place during a party at the home of Steve Watson, 750 Garrison Road. Greenville Sheriff Department Deputies S.F. Burnett and E.B. McKaig responded to the scene, and found the car in a ditch with the two deceased men inside.

 Lt. Smith said that investigators interviewed a large number of witnesses, obtaining enough evidence to seek and receive warrants for Clark’s arrest. Efforts to contact Watson were unsuccessful.

“According to several witnesses, there had been some sort of an altercation between the men earlier in the evening. They knew each other prior to this incident, according to the information investigators have developed,” said Lt. Smith. Witnesses also reported that a fight had broken out involving baseball bats and guns as the party was breaking up. No reason has been given by police for the fight at this time.

According to the warrants issued by Judge Darrell Fisher, witness statements, forensic evidence, and police documents provided sufficient evidence for Clark’s arrest. Instead, within a few hours, he had surrendered to the authorities.

According to a spokesperson at the Solicitor’s Office, Clark has obtained legal counsel, a necessary first step in seeking bond. “A magistrate cannot set bond on a murder charge, so the suspect has to hire a lawyer who can request a bond hearing through our office. The earliest we have any bond hearings scheduled is this coming Friday, so nothing will happen before that,” said the spokesperson.

West Pelzer retreat positive, officials say

By Stan Welch 

Last week, the West Pelzer Town Council and Mayor met with Joe Newton, Director of Government Operations at the Appalachian Council of Governments (ACOG) to address a number of issues that have been causing tension among its members, as well as between the Council and the town employees.

Newton, speaking to The Journal, said that the meeting was very positive and encouraging. The meeting, which Newton said had been in the works for several months, followed closely on the heels of an incident earlier this month involving relatives of both a Council member and a town employee. Both men were arrested on charges involving an altercation they had. After several days leave, the employee, Town Clerk Beth Elgin, has recently returned to work.

 Newton said that the Council members worked constructively to resolve a number of administrative issues that have contributed to the tension “We discussed how to handle work orders, reporting of various items.  We also reviewed the responsibilities and duties that the various members have, or don’t have, under the strong mayor form of government,” said Newton.

Newton repeatedly expressed his gratitude for the attitude that the various Council members brought to the meeting. “It was very civil and courteous, and we worked out a lot of the administrative problems. Sometimes, you need to clarify such things as chain of command and the various rights and responsibilities of the different elected officials, as well as the employees.

Other issues involved who would be provided with keys to the Town Hall, and how often financial reports would be made available. The issue of financial reports has been repeatedly raised by various Council members, with Mayor Paxton explaining that the new accounting software requires a great deal of data entry work to provide all the information necessary to produce the reports. The Town purchased the software earlier this year in order to facilitate all the financial aspects of the Town’s operations, including utility and tax billing.

Despite Newton’s euphoric reaction to the meeting, it was marred by the abrupt departure of Councilman Joe Turner, who took offense at the content of an article which appeared in The Journal that day. The other Council members declined Turner’s invitation to leave as well.

Councilwoman Maida Kelly later said that she felt the meeting was a good one. “ I think it went well. I enjoyed it. It was very enlightening. It was a good long meeting and we’re getting some things worked out.”

Councilman Marshall King agreed, saying, “It was a good meeting.”

Mayor Paxton said that she was very proud that the remaining Council members declined to leave, saying, “It was clear that they wanted to work on the problems we have. We have to find a way to do the best thing for our citizens, whether we all like each other or not. None of us want our Town to be the laughingstock of the county.”

That comment was an apparent reference to a remark made by Newton last week that offended a number of townspeople and possibly some members of Council. Newton said essentially that the Town government wasn’t doing a very good job of serving its people.

Said Newton in an interview Monday morning, “I meant no insult to anyone. While I don’t remember the exact words I used, I do stand by the meaning the article conveyed. But the Council members and Mayor were very impressive in their willingness to work on difficult issues. I hope that they will continue to take such opportunities to work things out, either with ACOG’s help, or in some other way.”

Options being considered for treatment plant upgrade

By Stan Welch

Despite protestations that no decision has been made yet concerning the direction a proposed expansion of the Town’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) will take, it’s clear that one of the options is far more attractive than the others, at least to Mayor Clardy and the Town’s wastewater consultants.

In a meeting with The Journal, which included Mayor Clardy, Mayor pro tem David Harvell, Sonya Harrison and Paul Lewis, of Goldie & Associates, and water and sewer department heads David Rogers and Tim Hood,  information was provided that strongly indicates that an approach that would use a technique known as land application is the clear favorite among the various options.

“I think it’s an obvious choice, and as the Council receives more information, I think they will agree also,” said Mayor Clardy. Sonya Harrison made it clear what the most powerful attraction of the proposal is. “The costs of the various options have basically made the decision for the Town,” she said.

Clardy took mild issue with the term ‘option,’ saying that DHEC wasn’t offering options. “We are required to make some changes and to make them pretty quickly,” said the Mayor. “Options’ isn’t really the word I would use.”

The Town has been under a consent order from DHEC since May, an order that essentially freezes any growth in the town. In April, DHEC set the Town’s flow capacity at 770,000 gallons per day (gpd). Combined with a reserved capacity of 300,000 gpd which the County claims, and which the town questions, there is no additional capacity available without an upgrade and expansion of the town’s WWTP.

Harrison and Lewis explained that there are essentially three possibilities the town can choose to address the problem. One is to pump the wastewater to the proposed Western Carolina treatment plant, an option which would incur huge rate increases for Williamston residents. According to figures provided by Goldie and Associates, the first option would cost as much as $16.4 million, and result in a  monthly rate as high as $88, depending on the financing used to fund the project.

A second option calls for the Town to upgrade and expand the existing plant, retaining the current method of treatment, at a cost of as much as $11.6 million. That option would continue to treat the wastewater in preparation for discharge into the Saluda River, a choice that will continue to become more difficult as state and federal standards on water quality tighten. “Standards and discharge limits are only going to get worse,” said Harrison. “There is simply no question about that.”

Lewis agreed, saying, “It’s virtually impossible to discharge into a river in Georgia anymore. That level of regulation is going to spread to this state, too. The land application method is going to enjoy great popularity in the coming years.” A review of the Town’s wastewater programs over the years states that “By doing a land application system, the Town is getting off the merry go round” of spiraling restrictions and costs associated with wastewater treatment.

Under option two, and again depending on the mode of financing, sewer bills could be as high as $68. All sewer rates presented here are based on the use of 4000 gallons per month, and are calculated by using the higher of the projected costs for each option, according to G&A’s figures.

Land application is the third option for the Town. It is land intensive, and would require either relocation of the Town’s WWTP or transport to a dispersion site. Said Clardy, “If land application is indeed the method the Town chooses, additional land will be needed. While we have reserved some land immediately adjacent to the WWTP for immediate construction, we would need more for the land application, and that would probably be elsewhere.”

Clardy and Harrison said that the potential need for land had been considered before the town sold additional acreage adjacent to the WWTP during a land auction earlier this year to raise cash for the Town’s financial problems. “We looked into that to make sure the Town wouldn’t get caught in a stupid situation where we would have to buy land back,” said Clardy.

The effluent, or treated wastewater would be released through a subsurface drip system that would meet the conditions of a no discharge (ND) permit, instead of the current NPDES permit, with its increasingly strict standards.

Based on Goldie’s figures, and assuming the reception of a Rural Development  Agency grant/loan that would finance the entire project, the cost would be between $4.2 and $6.9 million, in a phased project that would probably take a year to begin, and three years to complete.

The project would be phased due to the nature of RDA financing. Sewer rates under the RDA plan would be approximately $50 a month, and would be set by the terms of the RDA grant/loan  financing plan. Under RDA funding, rates are calculated and set to insure the ability to make all contracted payments.

ACOG’s Director of Government operations, Joe Newton, has frequently expressed his approval of RDA programs specifically because they set stringent standards and regulations as conditions of their assistance. “The RDA will hold the Town’s feet to the fire and make them comply. There is no chance of any backsliding or revenue shortfalls. If existing rates don’t meet the need, the rates are increased. RDA is very good at what they do, and using them for financing would be a very good decision by the Town.”

Both Lewis and Harrison said that the Town has become much more aware of and responsive to wastewater issues in recent years. 

“I think the Town has worked hard to solve their problems as they have arisen,” said Lewis, who added that he thinks the Town has a very good chance of receiving the RDA funding. The Town is seeking a 40% grant and a 60% loan.

“Actually, RDA contacted us, asking if there was anything they could do to help the Town with these problems. That’s a pretty good sign.”

Harrison said the Town has become much more proactive in their approach to such issues. “I think they are trying to look ahead. This land application method would help them address their future sewer needs as well as solve their current problems.”

 The Mayor plans to hold a public meeting later this month to provide the public with more information on the various choices facing the Town. The time and date are yet to be determined.

Town taking steps to address concerns with treatment plant

By Stan Welch

Questions and concerns continue to swirl around the decision by Williamston officials to accept landfill leachate for pretreatment in the municipal wastewater treatment facility. Mayor Phillip Clardy and representatives of the town’s wastewater engineering firm, Goldie & Associates, addressed those concerns Tuesday afternoon in an interview requested by The  Journal.

Residents who live adjacent to the treatment plant have complained to Town officials of nausea, irritated eyes and throats, bloody noses and stomach ailments; as well as an awful smell, which is most likely hydrogen sulfide, a gas of significant toxicity which is sometimes generated in wastewater treatment processes.

Sonya Harrison, of Goldie & Associates, said that the presence of hydrogen sulfide is the sign of a septic wastewater treatment system, and can be corrected. “A properly functioning system does not produce hydrogen sulfide. If that is present, we can use a caustic feed system to solve that problem.”

Harrison and Clardy also announced that an air quality test program would be initiated to determine the presence or absence of a number of other possible organic elements. “Ammonium nitrate is a major concern in situations like this, but we will also use a test system that will address concerns the residents have about carcinogens also.”

Other measures designed to ensure public safety, according to the Mayor, include an increase in the random testing of leachate samples from the various tankers dumping into the Town’s system. “We have been testing once a month at the ARL holding tank, as well as taking random samples from various tankers. We will be stepping that up,” said the Mayor.

He also stated that the Town intends to exceed state and federal requirements for testing. “We could just meet their standards, but that is not our intent. We will exceed EPA and DHEC testing to assure that our residents health is protected.”

Clardy and Harrison also answered questions concerning the nature of the agreement between the Town and ARL. Harrison explained that there is no formal contract, but instead an acceptance agreement is in place. That agreement sets conditions which ARL must meet, and establishes the cost of disposing of the waste at $45 per thousand gallons. The tankers used hold approximately 6500 gallons. Residents of the area around the WWTP report as many as eight or ten tankers a day being accepted. Harrison explained that ARL had a backlog of some 400,000 gallons to dispose of and that arrangements were made to allow for them to get caught up. “The number of tankers should level off soon at about three per day,” she said.

When asked if the acceptance plan has DHEC approval, Harrison said, “The instrument for acceptance is the Town’s existing pretreatment program, which is DHEC approved.” The Town has just applied for an upgrade of its pretreatment plan from DHEC, said Harrison, in preparation for a general expansion of the treatment facilities.

Mayor Clardy couldn’t confirm a specific formal vote or passage of an ordinance which formally established the practice of accepting such waste. A resolution was passed by Council generally setting the terms of the acceptance agreement, but no subsequent ordinance or vote appears in Town minutes. According to David Rogers, head of the Town’s wastewater department, the agreement was never voted on. “The resolution was approved,” said Rogers. Mayor Clardy added that the town attorney assured him that the resolution was sufficient. Under the acceptance agreement, either party can terminate the deal. ARL currently continues to send some leachate to Belton for pretreatment. Belton also employs Goldie & Associates as its wastewater consultants.

Mayor Clardy reported that at least one more meeting would be held, a public forum on August 10, at 6 p.m., which will again allow residents to express their concerns, and to allow the Town staff and engineers to address those concerns. The air quality test results will not be available by then, but will be made public when they are received, said Harrison.

The testing will involve the placement of ten cyclinders, which will absorb air samples for later electronic analysis. The cylinders will be placed at various locations on the perimeter of the WWTP. The technology used to analyze the samples is capable of detecting two parts of an element in a billion parts of air, according to Harrison.

Williamston Council holds worksession

During a special meeting Tuesday, Williamston Town Council briefly discussed some budget related items, entertained information on electrical upgrades needed in the park, and held an executive session to discuss personnel matters.

Upon returning to regular session, Mayor Phillip Clardy said that air quality samples would be taken in the Gatewood subdivision. The samples will cost between $5100 to $6000 he said. The samples are in response to complaints about foul odor and other concerns residents of the subdivision have that are related to the town’s sewer treatment facility.

Council then discussed several budget related items as they looked over draft number 8 of the 2007 budget.

Discussions included further breaking down budget categories with additional line items.

Police Chief David Baker told council he is looking at additional ways to save money in his department and suggested a change in the linen expense account. Baker said he is considering purchasing a washer/dryer to do laundry cleaning in house. Baker said the department is already implementing a new program to account for gas usage.

The town is also looking into accepting credit card payments at the police department and the front office.

Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. reported that during several trips to Gatewood Subdivision he had not encountered foul odors. But, after receiving a phone call from a resident, he did investigate and found a foul odor that he said he had not previously smelled.

He said he didn’t think it was coming from the leachate from Anderson Regional Landfill that is being dumped into the system.

Middleton said that if there was any indication that the leachate was a heath concern, the town would not accept it. 

“If there is any clue it’s a problem, it’s out of there,” he said.

Both Councilman Middleton and Mayor Clardy have stated they believe the leachate is safe to accept and treat in the town’s facility and that the resulting revenues will benefit the town.

“If we ever felt in any way there would be problems we would stop it,” Clardy said.

It was then suggested by Middleton that a seperate column be placed in the budget for leachate revenue.

Treating the leachate will bring $10,000 to $20,000 per month to the town, officials said.

There was some discussion about how employees who are working in more than one department are being accounted for in the budget.

Councilman Greg Cole suggested the town consider selling the grinder and a truck and possibly getting a newer truck. There was some discussion about the trash packers.

Appalachian Council of Governments advisor Joe Newton handed out information about Forms of Government.

Council will meet Monday, August 7 at 6 p.m. for their regular monthly meeting, which is held on the first Monday of the month.

 

Extreme temps result in energy sharing measures

Weather forecasts across the Carolinas are calling for near triple digit temperatures this week with heat indexes well into the 100s. Due to the extreme conditions and the possibility of record energy use in the area, Duke Energy is asking customers to help save power.

Area textile plants, which have signed up for the energy load sharing option offered by Duke Energy, have seen their electrical supply cut back this week, resulting in a temporary shutdown of production.

Mount Vernon Mills Williamston plant is one local plant participating in the program. Human Resource Director Joe Nalley said the plant was advised last week by Duke Energy officials that the power reduction might be necessary.if temperatures rose this week.

Tuesday they were notified that they would be affected, and the plant prodution was shut down. Nalley said they expected to be starting back up at midnight and will probably run on Sunday to make up for the lost production. Nalley said several Upstate plants were also affected this week by the load sharing option.

During a heat wave in mid-July, Duke Energy issued a similar request for voluntary energy conservation and the customer response was significant according to a press release issued by the company. Small actions by thousands of people resulted in lower than expected demand for power which helped Duke Energy ensure there was sufficient electricity to meet all customers’ critical needs.

Energy conservation is a great way to reduce power bills any time. It’s particularly important when demand for energy is high. Duke Energy officials offer the following tips to help residents deal with the extreme heat:

· If it doesn’t interfere with the health or safety of the occupants, raise the setting on, or turn off, room and central air conditioners. Where possible, use fans: air that is circulating, even warm air, is more comfortable than still air.

· Avoid using appliances such as dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers until the evening hours, when the temperature begins to drop. 

· If possible, avoid preparing hot meals in the kitchen during the day. Cooking adds heat to the house, which increases the discomfort level and makes air conditioners work harder.

· Close curtains, drapes or blinds during the day to reduce heat buildup.

· Use lighting sparingly. Bulbs, particularly incandescent bulbs, produce heat.

More information on energy conservation and efficiency is available on the web site at www.duke-energy.com.

Demand for power continues to grow in the Carolinas. Duke Energy typically adds 40,000 to 60,000 new customers each year. One of the company’s top priorities is to determine the most efficient and environmentally sound way to meet our customers’ growing demand for electricity over the next 10 to 15 years. That’s why Duke Energy is considering several options including:

· Constructing a nuclear power plant in the Carolinas 

· Constructing a modern and state-of-the-art pulverized coal-fired plant and retiring older, less efficient coal units in the Carolinas 

· Pursuing additional energy efficiency and conservation measures to reduce customers’ demand for electricity 

· Pursuing renewable power plant technologies. 

For more information about Duke Energy’s efforts to serve customers growing power demand, see the web site Duke-Energy.com/newgeneration. More information about the company is available on the Internet at: http://www.duke-energy.com.

District One Board approves new hires

The Anderson School District One Board of Trustees held a brief  meeting Tuesday with introduction and approval of new hires for the school year as the primary business of the evening.

Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler reported that a representative from the state recently told him that he was “very much impressed with the operation and quality of food” being offered by the student nutrition program in District One. Dr. Fowler said the program is “where it needs to be” and that the official said it is “A model for the state.”

Fowler said the program is soundly managed and offers nutritional meals to students in the District. The program showed a profit of $440,199 for the previous year which was used to upgrade equipment and facilities, according to Assistant Superintendent David Havird.

Board member Nancy Upton said the program was “Well managed - expenses went down and revenues up,” she said.

Acting upon a recommendation by Dr. Fowler, Board members unanimously approved the following:

Leave of absence - Laura Reeves, Hunt Meadows Elementary, Kindergarten.

Resignations - Jill Hendricks, Palmetto Elementary, Grade 3; Scott O’Hara, Powdersville Middle, Grade 6; Shari Stowers, Hunt Meadowws Elementary, Grade 3; Pat Rose, Wren Elementary, Grade 1.

Recommendations - Karen Cunningham, Wren High, Media Specialist; Treva Davis, Powdersville Middle, Grade 6 Language Arts, Rachel Grablovic, Palmetto Elementary, Grade 3; Phillip Ingmire, Palmetto Middle, Grade 8 Science, Math; Christie Little, Hunt Meadows Elementary, Grade 3; Gaia Phillips, District, School Psychologist/Early Interventionist (.6FTE); Kelley Rogers, Wren Elementary, Grade 1; David Thompson, Spearman Elementary, Physical Education.

County Clerk, deputy clerk give insight into reassignment

By Stan Welch

Several weeks ago, a conflict arose between the Clerk to the Anderson County Council and the deputy clerk. The conflict stemmed from an e-mail the deputy clerk, Tammy Shealy, sent to county administrator Joey Preston, and which the Clerk, Linda Edelmann, saw and read.

So intense was the resulting conflict that it could only be settled by the transfer of  Shealy out of the Clerk to Council’s office, a decision made by Council Chairman Larry Greer and Vice Chairman Bill McAbee. The transfer was made immediately, with Shealy not even returning to the Clerk’s office. Following a subsequent meeting of the two women with Greer and McAbee in an attempt to work the issue out, the transfer was made permanent.

The incident that sparked the dispute centered around an e-mail exchange between Shealy and Preston. On a Friday before a County Council meeting in late June, the two women were working on the agenda packets they are required to provide to the Council and the media at least twenty four hours prior to the meeting. Both women agree that Preston called Shealy and said that something had to be changed in the packet. Both agree that Edelmann commented on Preston’s calling Shealy instead of her. The level of anger by Edelmann over that call is a point of difference between the two.

Shealy says Edelmann became enraged, taking the call as a slight to her, and that she stormed from the office, saying she was going to talk to Preston about it. Edelmann says she did go see Preston, to ask that he contact her because Shealy frequently garbled messages and caused confusion.

When asked by The Journal why Preston had her number programmed into his phone for instant access, instead of Edelmann’s, as the pertinent e-mail verifies, Shealy said it had been that way since a previous assistant clerk was in the office. “He had Stacy’s number in his system, and it just carried over.” Edlemann disputes that claim, saying that Preston seldom if ever called Stacy, whose last name neither provided.

Not surprisingly, both women continued to tell very different versions, based on the same basic events. Shealy contacted The Journal seeking to respond to an article in last week’s issue in which District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson described Shealy as a spy put in the Clerk’s office by Preston.

Shealy denied that charge, saying that Preston never helped her get a job with the County, although he did employ her husband Gerald Shealy in the central dispatch office. The Shealys moved to Anderson County from Cherokee County, where Gerald Shealy also worked for Preston, when he was that county’s administrator.

“I started with the Register of Deeds Office, and Mr. Preston didn’t even know I had applied. While I was working there, I was assigned to the County switchboard because our office provided relief operators when they needed them. I met several Council members back then, when there were only five members. Mr. Holden, and Ms. Floyd and Mr. Tolly went to Mr. Preston and told him they wanted me in the Clerk’s Office, and that’s how I ended up working there.”

She and Edelmann even tell different stories about their professional and personal relationship. Shealy says that Edelmann has harassed her for five years, and that many Council members prefer to work with her instead of Edelmann. “She can be very hard to get along with. I had requested transfers before, because she harassed me.”

Edelmann says she was asked several times by Council members to write Shealy up for shortcomings in her performance. “Tammy and I had a problem in 2001, right after she came here, and Council told both of us we had to find a way to work together. I have refused to write her up to keep from making waves. The only thing I got on her about was the number of personal calls she was getting at work. Over the years, we became best friends, or so I thought until I saw that e-mail. It wasn’t about County business, it was about me personally. The reason Tammy never came back in this office after going to lunch Friday was she was ashamed and embarrassed by the lies she wrote in the e-mail.”

The e-mail, which included several exchanges between Preston and Shealy, made references to Edelmann’s reaction to the phone call, as perceived by Shealy.

The e-mail, which The Journal has seen a copy of, also made a reference to Shealy’s opinion that “I think the 4 votes are there.” Asked what that remark meant, Shealy reiterated that she never wrote to Preston about Council business, but added,  “I was really mad at Linda and I stated my opinion that I thought the four votes to fire her were available on council. I have never done anything like that before, and I shouldn’t have done it then.”

 Following the phone call that Friday morning, Shealy says she just had the feeling that Edelmann was going to read her e-mails, so she deleted them before leaving the office. Edelmann says the e-mail was on Shealy’s screen when she walked by and saw it. She concedes that she printed a copy and read it several times at her desk.

When Shealy returned from lunch, both agree that the e-mail was on her screen. Edelmann left for lunch without mentioning the e-mail, and later received a call from Shealy saying that her husband was having a heart attack and she had to leave. Shealy says that she did leave due to a health emergency involving her husband, though she never described it to The Journal as a heart attack. She said while she was gone that Friday, she called Chairman Greer and told him she couldn’t work in the office anymore. She wrote a letter over the weekend and says she gave it to Greer Monday morning asking for a transfer. Edelmann says she came to work Monday morning and Shealy’s personal effects were already gone from the office.

“She has never been back in that office since Friday afternoon when she left on her emergency,” said Edelmann.  Shealy agrees that she has not been back in the office.

Following the meeting that tried to smooth things over, Shealy was permanently transferred, although she declined to say to which department. “I do some work for Mr. Preston and some other things,” she said in an interview with The Journal.

Subsequently, her computer and other files were removed from the Clerk to Council’s Office, a decision Edelmann questions. “That computer is not her personal computer. What is on it belongs to the County and to the County Council.” Shealy says she doesn’t know who decided to move the computer, but conceded that she was finishing up some projects for various Council members and needed the computer to do so.

Both women say that an employee from the MIS office, who was identified only as Jessica, was present at the time of the phone call that started the dispute. Both say she will back their story up. Both also acknowledge that Jessica no longer works for the County. Neither knows where she went, or why she left the County’s employ. 

Edelmann says that Jessica came back to the Clerk’s office Monday and told her she didn’t see anything that would have caused Shealy to react as she did. Edelmann also said that Chairman Larry Greer saw her in the office that Monday. “I spoke to Jessica once more on the phone and she said Mr. Preston called her and told her not to discuss anything about the situation with me.”

Shealy says that she and Edelmann had hit it off and become friends, but added that “Linda has always been jealous of me. I’ve tried and tried to cushion her feelings. Mr. Greer told me that several members of council had pleaded for me to stay and that is very flattering, but I just can’t work with Linda anymore.”

She added that she likes and respects both Preston and Councilwoman Wilson. “The administrator is very fair with people and is very good at his job. Ms. Wilson is a smart, sophisticated elegant woman. I just wish she would leave me out of their feud. I’m very hurt that she would call me a spy. I have always been aware that people might think that I was something like that to Mr. Preston so I have worked extremely hard to avoid that idea.”

Under the Council/Administrator form of government, the administrator and the Clerk to Council, as well as any deputy or assistant clerks work for the Council itself.

Spring Water Run returns

The Spring Water Run will return as part of the 25th Annual Spring Water Festival, with a new 5K certified race course and a one mile fun run.

The 5K open race will begin at 7:45 and will be followed by the fun run at 8:30 p.m. Race day registration will be held between 6:15 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.

The race will begin and end on Main St. at McDonalds. The course will follow city streets and country roads with rolling hills. Splits will be called at each mile interval. Water will be provided at 2 mile and finish. Water and fruit will be provided after the race.

Medals will be awarded to all finishers in the one mile race. Trophies will go to the top 2 male/female in 5K, top 2 masters male/female in 5K and to the first 3 places male/female by age in the 5K.

Age groups are 5K - 13 & under, 14-18, 19-24, 25-29, 30-34, 36-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70 & over.

Parking will be in the lot beside McDonalds or the ball field behind Moores.

Entry fee is $15 before August 23 and $20 on day of race and will include special Spring Water Run T-shirt. Run application forms are available at Renea Rowland Nationwide Insurance in Belton and The Journal in Williamston. Application and race map is also available online at www.thejournalonline.com.

For more information contact Renea Rowland at 864-339-1600 or Chris Bradberry at 864-420-3282 or email rowlanr1@nationwide.com.

Seems to Me . . .
Who’s accountable?

By Stan Welch

A bit of housekeeping needs to be done here. In an article in a recent issue, concerning some illegal dumping of fill dirt and debris by county road crews, the language used gave the impression that Holt Hopkins had repeatedly denied that such dumping was taking place. I think the actual phrase was “Reversing months of denials . . “. While the issue was first raised months ago, and Hopkins did originally deny it, the phrasing used gives an inaccurate impression. Hopkins was not repeatedly contacted about the issue; therefore he couldn’t have repeatedly denied anything.

He was not contacted repeatedly because I decided to wait until I had proof of the activity. Once I obtained such proof in the form of photos, I called Hopkins again. Again confronted about the dumping, but without knowledge of the photos, he followed up on it and quickly conceded that it had happened. He put crews to work on the problem and freely conceded to The Journal that he had been wrong in his original position that it wasn’t taking place. That is a refreshing stance by a county official in Anderson County, and deserves a more precise explanation than was first provided. I hope this meets that higher standard, Mr. Hopkins

Now, on to a different topic. Williamston officials have recently entered into an arrangement with Anderson Regional Landfill, LLC that has stirred a bit of a stink, to make a bad pun. The arrangement states that the Town will accept and pretreat leachate from the landfill owned and operated by ARL, LLC. I repeat the LLC because it stands for limited liability corporation.  Remember that phrase.

Under this arrangement, the Town accepts tens of thousands of gallons monthly of the fluid that is formed by rain water percolating down through the landfill at Big creek into a holding tank, from whence it is collected and hauled to Williamston. There, it is dumped into a manhole alongside the road, and on into the Town’s wastewater treatment plant.

The Town stands to make a good deal of money by this arrangement, perhaps as much as $15,000 a month. But the arrangement seems to me to have been entered into a bit hastily.

According to the Mayor and the Town’s engineering and wastewater consultants, Goldie & Associates, the practice of accepting leachate for pretreatment is well established and quite safe. Yet, there are residents of the Gatewood community who are complaining of nausea, stomach ailments, nosebleeds and difficulty in breathing. They say the stench is so bad that they are frequently forced to stay indoors because of it. They have asked for air quality testing, and the Mayor and G&A promise to do so.

The issue that arises, beyond the specific ones of the leachate arrangement and the problems it has spawned, is one of an absence of foresight by the Town’s leaders and of consideration for its citizens. Many decisions have been made and sacrifices suffered in order to preserve the political entity that is Williamston; a political entity chartered by the General Assembly, and recognized throughout the Palmetto State.

But too often, it seems, those decisions have been made in an absence of concern for the Town’s citizens and their welfare. A few months ago, the Town was preparing to auction land to raise cash. A number of citizens on the town’s south end were in danger of being driven from their land by that auction, because the land that their trailers sat on had been recently given the Town, which was all too eager to turn it into cash.

A hue and cry was raised, and the Town’s officials found a way to accommodate its citizens, giving them at least a fair opportunity to retain their lots. But the point is that the Council and Mayor were forced to react because no one addressed the issue beforehand, even though it had been made clear in the weeks and months before the auction.

The decision to enter into an agreement of acceptance with ARL, LLC, which is not a contract, shows signs of reactive, rather than proactive, thinking. Mayor Clardy and G& A representatives both maintain that the question was carefully studied, and that may be true. But why weren’t the citizens most likely to be affected shown the courtesy of being contacted and informed in advance? Did no one think of it, or did the loud echo of “$15,000 a month” drown out the voice of common sense and political caution?

Mayor Clardy said recently that the Town intends to exceed the requirements of DHEC and EPA in assuring that the air quality in the area is adequately monitored and maintained. The decision is worthy of applause. But that decision came after residents and the press raised the questions, not before.

Seems to me that the Town faces another challenge, as if it didn’t have enough of those already. While it continues to seek revenue to fund its fight for corporate and political survival, as the entity known as the Town of Williamston, it must place at least equal emphasis on caring for and protecting its citizens. Without that priority clearly established and pursued, what is the point of maintaining a charter that means nothing?

Remember that I told you to remember the phrase limited liability corporation, as in ARL, LLC? Anderson Regional Landfill set themselves up as an LLC for a reason, and that’s because they are a business, which, no matter what they say, have no obligation to protect you, and no real accountability if they don’t. That’s the difference between government and private enterprise. The leaders, as well as the citizens, of Williamston would do well to remember it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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