News Archive

(3107) Week of August 1, 2007

Williamston EMS serves community for 40 years
Public hearing August 6 on $4.487 million budget
Planning Commission approves street relocation
Pelzer to hold election
Pelzer park improvements completed
Clerk hiring process leads Council discussion
Grove Station Masons to hold ground breaking
District One Schools announce registration

Williamston police report busy July

Police catch robber
Deputies investigate incidents
Burkhart to serve three life sentences

Supreme Court case has local implications
Seems to Me . . .Open government

Woodmont plans drop in for students

Williamston EMS serves community for 40 years

On July 10, the Williamston EMS turned 40 yrs old.  Originally organized as a volunteer rescue squad, the Williamston EMS has grown into a paid professional emergency medical service. 

The main station is located at 902 Anderson Dr. in Williamston, with a sub-station located in the Beaverdam community. 

 Currently the 71 person staff operates 8 ambulances, 11 wheelchair vans, 4 Quick Response Vehicles, a Special Events unit and a medium duty rescue truck.

Many of the most current medical procedures are available to the community by the local EMS provider.  

“WEMS is the only EMS provider in Anderson County that can transmit heart rhythms to any hospital in the area,” stated Administrator Joe Barr.

Also the local provider has installed new airway equipment that will assist patients in maintaining an airway and avoid a breathing tube being inserted.  They also have the ability to perform advanced airway skills that until the past few years was reserved only for in-hospital treatment.

 “We are very proud of the skills and equipment that we have been able to obtain over the past few years.  We know it has meant the difference for many patients and their quality of life,” Barr said.

The staff recently placed a new rescue truck into service with contributions from local citizens.  The new truck is a 2001 Freightliner that the staff has modified for rescue operations. 

“We conducted a photo fundraiser back in the winter and that money along with funds from the sale of the old rescue truck has allowed us to upgrade the equipment and the vehicle.  It has increased our storage capacity 10 fold,” Barr explained. 

The new vehicle carries air bags capable of lifting over 100,000 lbs, a new generator and Jaws of Life pump.  The new truck also has reels that allow the rescue tools to stay connected so that they can be deployed quicker at the scene of an accident.  WEMS hopes to have more fund raisers in the future to upgrade the Jaws of Life tools. 

“Our primary spreaders are over 30 years old and are extremely heavy requiring two people to operate” according to Capt. Jerry Johnson, one of the many staff members who have worked on the modifications.  “The newer models are much lighter and more powerful than our current tool.” 

Several years ago Anderson County Council allowed the non-profit rescue squads to bill for services.  

“If it was up to us, we would never bill for any services, however that is not a fiscal reality,” stated Marty Evans the organization’s Business Manager. 

The local provider receives $25,000 per month from Anderson County to operate an ambulance 24/7 staff with a paramedic and EMT to respond to 911 calls.  The actual cost to operate an ambulance is approximately $36,000 monthly. 

“Thus to afford to provide the highest level of medical care available, we must charge for services and provide non-emergency transports for fees in order to make up for the shortfall,” Evans said.

Barr would like to thank the community for their support over the years and for the volunteers who started the Rescue Squad. 

“Without their dedication and hard work we would not be here today,” he said.

Public hearing August 6 on $4.487 million budget

The Town of Williamston approved an amended budget for 2007-2008 on July 16 that reflects a 4 mill increase. A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, August 6 for the revised budget after which second reading is expected to be held.

The budget reflects a change from the 106 mills approved June 28, to 110 mills.

As approved on first reading, the  $4,487,953 budget includes a $2.55 million general fund budget, $1.2 million water fund budget and $731,000 sewer budget.

 The new budget reflects a change from a calendar year to a fiscal year beginning July 1 of this year. The budget includes additional revenues from a 4 mill increase and a new hospitality tax. The general fund budget is $32,000 less than the 2007 budget approved earlier this year.

Expected general fund revenues from taxes are: property taxes $817,000; property tax increase of 4.0 mills, $35,200; delinquent taxes, $2,900; penalties, $2,600; motor vehicle tax $118,000; payments in lieu of taxes, $6,000; homestead exemptions $86,000; merchants inventory tax, $7,200; manufacturing exemption, $63,000; SC local government fund $161,471.75 and hospitality tax revenues of $80,000 for total tax revenues of $1,379,371.

Licenses and franchise fees are expected as follows: business license, $46,000; MASC insurance premium fee, $330,500; franchise fees from Charter $35,101; Duke Energy, $234,748; Fort Hill, $96,000 and MASC telecommunications $18,800. Total revenue from licenses and fees  is budgeted at $761,149.

Police Revenues include fines (after payments to the state) $77,400; resource officer, $70,000; and police fundraiser $600, for a total of $148,000.

Activity fees include little league, $12,000; park, $3,500; and room rentals $4,000 for a total of $19,500.

Other service charges  expected include sanitation fee, $240,000; dumpster fees, $6,000 and scrap metal sales, $750 for a total of $246,750.

Other line items are provided for grants and other miscellaneous items but only interest income of $500 was budgeted.

Total general fund revenues are budgeted at $2,555,271.

General expenses include employee bonuses of $4,500; accounting software, $4,000; MASC SCMIRF and Tort, $70,000; MASC SMIT-workers comp $18,000; MASC dues, $1,700; audit fees $9,000; bookkeeping fees, $14,400; town attorney $24,000; labor attorney, $4,000; grant consultant, $7,500; special audit, $10,000; potential court settlements, $7,500; bank charges, $1,000; contingency restricted fund $445,517; professional fees $2,000 and website development $5,000 for a total of $628,117.

Council/Administrative expenses include mayor and council salaries of $12,000; administration salaries $112,003; FICA/Medicare $9,486; retirement $11,234; health insurance, $16,203; repairs and maintenance, $6,500; vehicle repairs, $500; repairs and maintenance Municipal building $7,500; supplies, $15,000; office supplies $10,000; training, $2,000; electricity/gas, $25,000; phone $3,750; postage, $3,000; mileage $500; water, $1,100; gas ,$1,800 for a total of $237,577.

Street and Sanitation department expenses include salaries of $144,580 and overtime of $3,000; part time/temporary $37,440; FICA/Medicare, $14,154; retirement, $5,436; health, $32,407; repairs and maintenance, $9,000; vehicle maintenance, $24,000; new packer $100,000; supplies $12,000; uniforms $2,700 electricity/gas, $52,000; phone $1,300; water, $7,000; non landfill debris, $11,000; county solid waste fees, $25,000 for a total of $456,017.

Police department expenses include salaries $511,529; overtime, $20,283; FICA/Medicare, $40,683; retirement $53,447; health insurance, $86,419; vehicle repair and maintenance, $20,500; facilities repair and maintenance, $16,000; supplies, $25,000; office supplies, $8,500; uniforms, $4,500; electricity/gas $15,500; phone, $7,200; postage, $500; water, $900; propane, $500; gas, $26,400; Durango payment, $6,100; Durango interest, $221; juvenile jail, $12,500; security, $2,940; less clerk of court labor allocation ($7,000) for total expenses of $882,622.

Municipal Court expenses include municipal judge $15,000; part-time judge, $3,200; FICA/Medicare $1,147; Retirement $1,359; health, $5,401; court expenses, $1,000; accounting upgrade, $1,000; clerk of court labor, $7,000 for a total budget of $35,107.

Parks and recreation expenses totals $206,989. Budgeted expenses include salaries of $11,500; salaries Dept $5,500; part time park, $3,660; parttime workers, $18,000; FICA/Medicare, $2,957; retirement $1,705; health, $5,401; repairs and maintenance, $7,500; supplies, $11,000; uniforms, $200; electricity/gas, $25,025; phone $576; natural gas scout hut $825, gas, $6,500; Christmas park, $2,500; little league, $18,500; parades, $500; cemetery care $200; security, $2,940; ballfield and concession stand maintenance, $2,000. Hospitality tax restricted is budgeted at $80,000.

Fire Department expenses include salaries $26,000; FICA/Medicare, $1,989; repairs and maintenance, $6,000; repairs and maintenance vehicles, $5,400; supplies, $4,600; uniforms, $3,000; electricity/gas, $4,350, phone $2,200; water $700.

Also propane for fire department generator $600, water tank generator propane, $200; gas, $5,500; physicals, $6,000; AC training facility dues, $650; rescue equipment, $2,000; capital lease fire truck principal $20,242; capital lease fire truck interest, $7,907; capital expenditures, $2,500, FEMA grant match, $3,000; morale/welfare, $5,000; SC Fire Academy training, $1,000, for total fire department budgeted expenses of $108,838.

Total budgeted expenses for the general fund amount to $2,555,271.

Planning Commission approves street relocation

By Stan Welch

The Williamston Planning Commission voted to approve and recommend to the Town Council a land swap arrangement that will make it possible to re-route Pelzer Avenue, increasing the town’s chances of attracting a major retailer or supermarket chain.

The swap of land between local businessman Jim Simpson and members of the Major family would allow the existing Pelzer Avenue intersection with Main Street to be relocated slightly north to form a true four way intersection with Mill Street. That is considered to be an essential step in attracting a supermarket to occupy the vacant Winn Dixie building at that location.

“Clearly, any major retailer or grocer will look at that very hard before making any decision to locate. If we can offer a safe and efficient ingress and egress to the location, it will certainly help,” said Simpson.

Mayor Phillip Clardy, who attended the meeting, agreed. “Hopefully we could funnel all the traffic through that entrance and exit, but we need to remain flexible to address the needs of any interested companies.”

Simpson, who is the chairman of the planning commission, explained the proposal, saying that he and members of the Major family,were exchanging small parcels of land, comprising less than a thousand square feet in area so that the relocation of Pelzer Avenue can be accomplished.  After explaining the details and the safeguards the parties will require, Simpson recused himself from the vote on whether to recommend the proposal to the full Town Council, which has final approval.

The costs of re-routing the street are uncertain at this time, but the Town’s grant writer, Rusty Burns, is encouraged by the Commission’s support of the project. “Approval by the Commission is an important first step. Approval by the Council will be even more important. Once that is secured, options open up. But certainly, nothing is ever guaranteed until the check is in hand.”

The securing of such funds is crucial in determining any timetable for completing the work.  The commission hopes that the recommendation can be presented to the entire Council at the August meeting.

Pelzer to hold election

The Town of Pelzer will elect a mayor and four council positions in an election to be held Tuesday, November 6.

Persons desiring to be candidates for office of mayor or council office may file at Pelzer Town Hall, 103 Courtney Street in Pelzer. Books will be open for filing at noon, August 8 and remain open during regular business hours until noon, August 23.

There is no filing fee for the offices and it is a nonpartisan election with no party affiliation placed on the ballot. 

The polling place will be the Pelzer Community Building in Pelzer Park on Community Drive.

Persons desiring to vote in the election must be registered by October 5 (or 30 days prior). To register, contact the Anderson County Board of Voter Registration at (864) 260-4035.

Pelzer park improvements completed

A local mission effort by Tabernacle Baptist Church has put the finishing touches on improvements at Pelzer’s Monkey Park, which has recently been completed. Mayor Kenneth Davis and other volunteers have also helped with the process.

During the week of July 16-21, members of the Tabernacle Baptist Church worked at the park putting a new coat of paint on all playground equipment, picnic shelter and restroom building, which also received a  new roof. An existing concrete slab once used for shuffleboard has been repainted to be used as hopscotch courts for young children.

New picnic tables were built and area provided for a beach volleyball court and horseshoes. The volleyball court included eight truck loads of masonry sand. A level space was created for the court in the park.

Benches were installed throughout the park, sod was placed, plants, flowers, trees and irrigation system were installed.

To improve security, a new security system has been installed and brighter lights will be added soon, officials said. Other future improvements will include new restrooms, new swings and grills for the picnic shelter.

“I would like to thank all who participated in our park renovation,” Mayor Davis said. “And thanks to the Modern Woodmen for donating several plants and trees. It’s good to see local churches participating in park renovations and improvements here in Pelzer and at the Williamston Park.”

A family day is being planned for the facility in August, according to Davis.

Clerk hiring process leads Council discussion

By Stan Welch

 Recent allegations by West Pelzer Town Councilman Mike Moran were confirmed during and after a meeting of Council held last Wednesday.

Moran had alleged that actions taken by three members of the Council during the recent interview process for the new Town Clerk violated the state’s open meeting laws, and other aspects of the Freedom of Information Act. (See related story elsewhere in this issue.)

Moran had charged that Councilmen Jimmy Jeanes, Marshall King and Joe Turner had already predetermined who they were going to hire, even before the process began. He said that when he raised the issue of the applicant’s insufficient qualifications at the first meeting held to review applications, King and Turner agreed, and also agreed not to send the application to the next step in the process.

According to Moran, that same applicant’s name was later presented to the entire Council in executive session after all other candidates had been interviewed.

What happened after that is in some dispute. What is clear is that the candidate was never formally interviewed because the members of Council who supported her left without interviewing her.

Jeanes says they were run off by the mayor, who insisted on talking to the candidate alone. Jeanes says the Council, which is authorized by law to appoint the town clerk, was denied the opportunity to interview the candidate. Mayor Paxton says the applicant’s resume had already been rejected due to the lack of qualifications, and that the applicant had not been through the same interview process as the other applicants.

At last Wednesday’s work session, which was scheduled to address the town’s budget, which still hasn’t been adopted, and the town’s debris removal ordinance, which remains bogged down in debate, Jeanes pressed the issue of the clerk, saying that he’d like to see one hired. The discussion of that process and how it has been conducted became heated, with Mayor Paxton plainly calling Jeanes a liar, a charge Jeanes later made about the mayor as well.

Paxton’s main complaint was that the three members of Council had tried to go around the application process and the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, in order to hire a less qualified applicant.

Jeanes took issue with the Mayor’s decision to have the Town’s auditing firm receive and evaluate the resumes. 

He refused to accept Mayor Paxton’s assurances that the Town had not been charged for that service, saying, “I can’t see why they would do it for nothing. All we have is your word for it. I still don’t know that they did it for nothing. Anybody can say anything they want to. That doesn’t make it so.”

Paxton countered by saying that she had known the name of the applicant since before the first meeting to review applications. 

“You all decided this weeks ago, and that’s the wrong way to do things. You say it is the Council’s job, and it is. But I’m a member of Council too, and I have a right to be involved. Why was this application withheld from Mr. Moran and me when you received it earlier?”

At one point, Councilman King made a motion to adjourn, a motion that normally requires an immediate vote without discussion. The mayor refused to entertain the motion, and prevented it from receiving a second. “We’re not adjourning yet. We’re going to talk about this some more,” she said.

King suggested throwing the entire process out and starting over. He asked Town Attorney Carey Murphy what the Council had done wrong, to which Murphy replied that legal advice should be given in an executive session. No such session was invoked, and the discussion continued in open session, before a crowd of approximately twenty people, including some who had submitted applications for the clerk position.

 Later during the heated discussion, Jeanes said, “I’m tired of all this arguing. We’ve chosen who we think we want. I picked this person because I thought she’d be a good candidate.”

Paxton countered by saying that some of the applicants had degrees in accounting and related work experience, to which Jeanes replied, “That doesn’t mean too much to me. When it’s all said and done it’s going to be this way, like I said it was.”

Jeanes also insisted that the Council members do not meet three at a time, which would be a violation of the open meeting laws of the state. 

“I can go to anyone’s house in town if I want to. That doesn’t mean we’re meeting to discuss town business,” he said in response to Paxton’s charge that the three member majority meets and makes decisions before and after meetings.

Paxton finally adjourned the meeting. 

During an interview following the meeting, Councilman Jeanes again confirmed to The Journal that he had told the candidate in question that she would get the job. When asked about the apparent lack of qualifications, he responded, “I chose her because I think she would be an asset to the town. There’s more to it than just working with the auditor. She would do better because she knows people in town and knows what goes on in town. We are trying to find the best candidate for this town, and that might not be the same as it would be for everybody.”

Councilman King confirmed Councilman Moran’s version of the decision to consciously avoid cutting the list of candidates to three, in order to avoid FOIA requirements that the finalists be made public.

“That’s right, we did that so we wouldn’t have to tell the newspaper about it. But I’ll tell you this. If the mayor had showed out in this meeting like she did in executive session, you’d be amazed.  Now, after all this, I don’t know when we’ll get a clerk hired.”

Grove Station Masons to hold ground breaking

A ground breaking ceremony is planned for Grove Station Lodge #166 A.F.M. on Thursday, August 9th at 6 p.m. 

 The building site is being donated to Grove Station Masonic Lodge by Brother J.T. Vinson and is located 1/2 mile off Hwy. 20 on Bracken Road.

Vinson is a Master Mason and long time member of Grove Station Masonic Lodge. 

The old building which was located on Hwy. 20 in the Grove Station community was sold on March, 5, 2005. 

Grove Station Masonic Lodge is currently meeting at the White Plains Masonic Lodge, located on Cherokee Road in the White Plains Community during this interim period.

“We would like to invite all Master Masons in the 17th Masonic District and other Masonic Districts to attend the ground breaking ceremony,” said Troy Bennett, Secretary of the Grove Station Masonic Lodge.

 The ceremony is also open to the public.

For additional information, please contact Bennett at 864-845-7812 or 864-449-2408. e-mail: troyebennett@bellsouth.net

District One Schools announce registration

Though Anderson County students and teachers have had an extra week or more of summer this year, the back to school date is fast approaching.

Anderson District One will hold the following registration and orientation dates:

CONCRETE

Back To School check-in will be Monday, August 13 from 3:30 - 6:30 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room. Students can pay school fees, purchase a school t-shirt, and receive teacher assignments.  Supply lists will be available.

Kindergarten Orientation  will be Tuesday, August 14 at 5 p.m. Parents and students should report to classrooms promptly at 5 to meet the teachers.  Teacher assistants will escort the children to the multi-purpose room for a special treat at 5:20.  Parents will remain with teachers to review general information.  The orientation should conclude by 6 p.m.

Orientation for Grades One & Two will be Thursday, August 16 between 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. Parents and students can visit classrooms anytime between 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. to meet the teachers.  Information packets will be available.

CEDAR GROVE

ELEMENTARY

Parents/Students can pay fees Aug. 13 from 2 to 8 p.m. or Aug14 from 7 a.m to -3 p.m. Orientation and meet the teachers  will be Thursday, Aug16 from 2:30-6:30 p.m.

 HUNT MEADOWS ELEMENTARY

Registration will be Monday, August 6 from 4-8 p.m.  Orientation will be on Monday, August 20.  5 -6 p.m. will be for K-4 through gr. 2 and 6 - 7 p.m. will be for grades 3 - 5

PALMETTO ELEMENTARY

Register New Students, All Students Pay Fees and Receive a Student Packet on Wednesday, August 8 - from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or  Thursday, August 9 - from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

Orientation and meet the teachers on Thursday, August 16 from 6 to 7 p.m.

 PELZER ELEMENTARY

Registration in the Main Office will be Thursday, August 16  from 5 to 5:30. Parents can pay school fees ($20 for 4K—5th grades) and join the school PTO for $5 per family..

5:30—6:30 Orientation in Homeroom will be from 5:30 to 6:30. Parents and students can see the new classroom and meet their teacher.

Also schedule home visits for 4K students; find out about homework, grading, and discipline procedures; learn more about the daily schedule, school programs, and get other information.

Parents can pick up information their child will need on the first day. Parents can also take care of breakfast orders, car rider tags, obtain bus information, get Free/Reduced Lunch Forms and other information. The school supply list on the web - www.anderson1.k12.sc.us/schools/pzes.

POWDERSVILLE 

ELEMENTARY

Orientation for Powdersville Elementary will be Thursday, August 16 at 6 pm.

SPEARMAN

ELEMENTARY

Registration and orientation will be August 16 from 5 p.m. to-6:30 p.m.

WREN ELEMENTARY

Back to School Night will be Thursday, August 16th, from 3:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m.  Welcome Back letters have been mailed stating the child’s teacher assignment and other registration information.

WEST PELZER

ELEMENTARY

Orientation and registration will be held Thursday, August 16 from 4 p.m to 7 p.m. 

Orientation for Kindergarten Parents and New Students’ Parents will be 6 to 6:30 p.m. Meet the Teachers/Orientation will be 6:30 to 7 pm

POWDERSVILLE MIDDLE

Registration and orientation will be Monday August 20, from 5:30 - 7:30. A letter will be sent to parents with all the details.

PALMETTO MIDDLE 

Parents and students can pay material fees and check schedules August 16  from 4 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and August 17  from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.  Open House will be August 16 at 6 p.m.  Students can meet with teachers and receive EIC information.

WREN MIDDLE

Beginning Monday, Aug. 13, parents can come by and pay fees

Pay fees & Schedule pick-up August 20th from 12:00 until 6:30 to pay fees, complete opening of school documents, pick up schedules, and visit classrooms  

WREN HIGH

Orientation and registration for Seniors will be Wed., Aug. 8 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

For Juniors, Thurs., Aug. 9,  8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Sophomores, Aug. 9 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Freshmen- Friday, Aug. 10, from 8 a.m  to 12 noon. 

Orientation and Open House- will be held Thursday, Aug. 16. 10th -12th Graders and their parents A brief meeting will be held in the auditorium from 6:30-7 p.m. for 10th-12th graders and their parents and they will have the opportunity to meet teachers and find classrooms from 7p.m. to 8 p.m.

9th Graders and their parents will meet in the Auditorium from 6 p.m. to 6:30  p.m. for orientation.  From 6:30-8 p.m., 9th graders will meet teachers and go over  specific procedures.  A dance will be held for all rising freshmen in the Auxiliary Gym from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

PALMETTO HIGH

Registration for all students: will be Tuesday and Wednesday Aug. 7 and 8 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Williamston police report busy July

At approximately 10:15 p.m. July 24, the Williamston Police Department received a call from Town Hall. Mayor Phillip Clardy reported two women looking through the windows. When Sgt. M.D. Creamer arrived, he found a white female walking towards a white Ford SUV parked in the McDonald’s parking lot. The woman entered the passenger side of the vehicle and Sgt. Creamer approached and identified her as Cheryl Middleton, wife of Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. He identified the driver as Janice Dawkins.

The women said they were there to meet Councilman Middleton to give him milk for a goat. They said that they were looking in the window for Councilman Middleton. Shortly after, Councilman Middleton, arrived and confirmed the story about the milk, and they left.

July 25 – Capt. K.P. Evatt arrested Heather Nicole Lollis, WF, 26, 5’5", 120 pounds, brn/blue for four counts of forgery. On July 24, Lollis allegedly forged four checks on the account of Henry Godfrey, of Piedmont. The four checks were for a total of approximately $184.03.

July 24 – Sgt. M.D. Creamer and Ptl. J. Digirolamo were at a location on Jehue St. responding to an unrelated call when they heard a disturbance down the street and saw Sharon Blanding, BF, 46, 5’4", 130 pounds push Melissa Gray to the ground and begin punching her and pulling her hair. The officers had to physically pull her off Gray and arrested her for assault.

July 21 – Ptl. M.W. Ritter and Reserve D.C. Dill were dispatched to the Hickory Point BP station where Div Patel said that he had been assaulted by a shoplifter who ran into the wooded area behind Gus’ Grill. An informant called to say that the subject was currently at the SavWay station nearby talking to the driver of an SUV at the gas pumps. The officers responded and apprehended the subject, Michael Terry Carson, BM, 47, 6’4", 195 pounds, of Belton. He had been trying to get a ride out of town. He was charged with shoplifting and simple assault.

July 20 – Sgt. M.D. Creamer stopped a vehicle for no tag light, and found a bag with approximately ten pounds of copper tubing in it. The driver, Jennifer Hatcher, of Greenwood, denied ownership of the bag, as did two passengers in the vehicle. Hatcher’s license and registration were in order, so she was released, although the copper was placed in evidence. One of the passengers, William Travis Carter of Pelzer, was arrested on three outstanding bench warrants and transported to WPD. Three days later he was arrested by Capt. K.P. Evatt for stealing copper pipe and copper wiring, valued at $1000, from a house under construction at 106 Mill Creek Rd. The material was stolen the same day that Carter was arrested on the bench warrants. Latent prints on pieces of copper tubing at the construction site were instrumental in the case. Carter was arrested on charges of grand larceny and burglary second degree.

July 20 – Sgt. M.D. Creamer executed a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Paul Michael Davis, WM, 25, 5’10", 170 pounds, of Williamston, and subsequently found crack cocaine in Davis’s possession. Davis was arrested and transported to WPD.

July 19 – SRO B.W. Parker was sent to 209 Mauldin Rd. to assist an investigator from the ACSO who was at that location working on a case. The investigator, Andy Tribble, said that there was a dog there chained to a tree who looked poorly fed. Parker confirmed that the dog had no food or water and the animal was transported to the county shelter for care and safe keeping. The resident was not home at the time.

July19 –Sgt. M.D. Creamer responded to 27 Jehue St. where he arrested Keith Owens, BM, 45, 6’7", 205 pounds, for assaulting Melissa Gray, BF,38, 4’11", 135 pounds with a walking cane. He was arrested and transported to WPD for simple assault.

 July 16 – Sgt. T.A. Call received a report from Lia Clardy that someone had entered her vehicle while it was in her yard and stolen a blue tooth, a GPS unit, some gloves and a Razr phone charger worth a total of $920.

July 16 – Cpl. J.M. Hall responded to 716 Anderson Dr. where Pamela White reported that her vehicle had been broken into, and $400 cash, as well as CDS and a CD player, were stolen.

July 16 – Cpl. D.W. Bryant received a complaint from Charles Phillips, of 114 Mahaffey St.,  that someone had broken into his vehicle and stolen his tools, fishing rods and CDs. They also damaged his dashboard trying to remove the CD player.

July 16 – Ptl. M.W. Ritter and Sgt. Z.E. Gregory stopped Camelia Arnez Singleton, BF, 5’3", 140 pounds, of Anderson, for speeding and subsequently found that she had no license, no insurance and no registration for her vehicle. She was arrested and transported to WPD.

July 13 – Ptl. J. Digirolamo and Sgt. M.D. Creamer observed a red Chevy pickup with a headlight out. They executed a traffic stop. The driver appeared very nervous and he was asked to exit the truck. He was then asked for permission to search the truck, and he consented. At that point, the passenger was asked to exit the vehicle. A plastic bag was found containing approximately three ounces of marijuana. The driver, Christopher Albert Poole, WM, 18, 5’11", 150 pounds, red/grn, of Williamston, was mirandized and agreed to talk to officers. He said the marijuana belonged to the other subject, who is a juvenile. Both were transported to WPD where the juvenile was released to the custody of his mother.

July 13 – Capt. K.P. Evatt  was dispatched to the Ace Hardware Store in reference to a forged check written by Angela Annette Evatt, WF, 41, of Belton. On July 18, Capt. Evatt arrested the subject on six counts of forgery, totaling $383.

July 12 – Sgt. Z.E. Gregory and Ptl. M.W. Ritter were dispatched to East First Street where they located Leroy Michael Strickland, WM, 39, 5’6", 160lbs., of Paradise Trailer Park in Pelzer, walking aimlessly in the street. When approached by officers, he placed his hand in his right pocket and would not remove it. He was placed across the front of the cruiser for a search and resisted. He continued to resist and was eventually handcuffed. The officers allegedly found approximately 5 grams of marijuana on him, and transported him to the WPD for booking. Reports state that while booking the subject, they found four tenths of a gram of methamphetamine in his wallet.

July 10 – Sgt. M.D. Creamer and Ptl. J. Digirolamo stopped a Ford Truck at the intersection of Greenville Drive and Tripp St after it ran the stop sign at East Carolina St.. The driver, Wallace Eugene Evatt, Jr., 47, WM, 5’11", 200 pounds, of Piedmont, was charged with disregarding a stop sign, DUS, 3rd offense, driving uninsured, and received a warning for an expired vehicle tag, which ran out in 1999. Two passengers, Kathleen Henderson, WF, 40, of Williamston, and Dawn Martin, WF, 33, of Williamston, were cited for public disorderly conduct. All three were arrested.

July 9 – Sgt. M.D., creamer observed a vehicle run a stop sign at the intersection of Williams Street and Mill Street. The truck fled when Sgt. Creamer attempted to stop it. Creamer followed the vehicle until it turned into the driveway at 218 Mahaffey St., where the driver attempted to enter the house there. The driver, Daniel Keith Rogers, WM, 20, 5’10", 175 pounds, brn/brn, of Pelzer, told Creamer he thought the blue lights behind him were his friends playing a trick on him. He was arrested and transported for failure to stop for blue light and disregarding a stop sign.

Police catch robber

The Williamston Police Department arrested a man on July 13 in connection with a strong arm robbery which took place on July 3 at the Fast Fuel at 207 West Main St.

Scotty Layne McJunkin, 32, 111 Parker St., Williamston was arrested after officers recognized the man from a video taken during the incident, according to Williamston Police Chief David Baker.

According to the incident report, a white male entered the store and walked to the counter to buy a pack of cigarettes. When the clerk opened the register, the man reached over the counter and grabbed money out of the cash drawer. He then left ran from the store towards the park. Approximately $230 in cash was taken. B. W. Parker investigated.

Deputies investigate incidents

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated incidents involvolving thefts, shoplifting  and bodily harm. Among incidents investigated:

 BELTON

July 26 – M.D. Campbell responded to 1878 Big Creek Rd. where Angela Reece, of Pelzer, said she had been at her son’s residence at that address when a person came from behind the house. She tried to leave, but the subject reportedly struck her in the head with a drink bottle several times, broke her cell phone and threw it at her. Campbell was seeking a warrant in the case, according to the report.

July 26 – S.M. Ambridge was dispatched to 1503 Big Creek Rd. where Michael Hines reported the theft of his Coleman pop-up camper from his father in law’s house. The trailer was valued at $3000.It was white with a blue/green stripe on the side and SC tag# CT79323.

July 28 – T.J. Burgess was dispatched to 377 Crawford Rd. where he found Ronald Cape, WM, 21, 6’3", 165 pounds, of Martinez, GA bent over in the yard and swaying as if he were about to fall. Clifton Horton, who called the police, said he had found Cape in his shed and had asked him what he was doing. Cape said he was looking for gas for his lawn mower. When Horton told him to leave, he went to the neighbor’s shed. Horton then called police. Cape was arrested for public disorderly conduct.

July 28 – M.J. McClatchy responded to Crawford Rd. where he and Deputy Burgess found a white male walking down the road. He matched the description of a man reported to be walking around with a handgun in his possession. McClatchy approached him and saw the butt of a pistol in his waistband. He drew his service weapon and ordered the man to put his hands on his head and get down on his knees. The man finally complied and was handcuffed, after yelling at the officers to shoot him. Christopher Blake Simmons, WM, 25, 5’11", 165 pounds, blond/blue, of Belton, slammed his head repeatedly into the deputy’s cruiser, damaging the car. Once placed inside, he continued to beat his head against the glass in the door, knocking the window off the track. He was tazered once,to no effect. The handgun was found to have a round in the chamber, but no other loads. He also had a six inch knife on his belt. En route to the ACDC, he again began slamming his head into the glass and metal portion of the partition between the seats. Deputy McClatchy stopped and sprayed him with pepper spray. He was transported to AnMed and treated before being transported to ACDC.

PELZER

July 27 – S.E. Mauldin responded to 7001 Hwy. 29N, where the clerk at the Little Cricket at that location reported that a man had left with several items in his pocket without paying for them. The clerk followed him out and asked for the items back. The man denied taking them, but she said they were sticking out of his pocket and she grabbed them. As she pulled them from his pocket, a driver’s license also fell on the ground, and the man walked away. The clerk confirmed that the photo on the license was that of the subject.

July 27 – D.W. Davis responded to 1618 Hwy. 8 where Martin Martin complained that one of his utility trailers was missing. He said he contacted a former employee who allegedly admitted taking the trailer, valued at $2600 and selling it on eBay. Martin also reported that a Stihl pole saw was missing from the location as well.

PIEDMONT

July 26 – W.E. Gregory responded to 144 Frontage Road where Joseph Leopard stated that someone stole his 1994 dark green Honda Accord EX from his work location at International Supply Company. The car bore SC tag#8775AA.

July 27 – M.D. Campbell was dispatched to 915 Anderson St. at the Eckerd’s Drug Store. A door was found broken. Once the manager arrived, the video was viewed and a brick was seen to be thrown through the window and a black male enter the store. He began putting cigarettes in a bag and left through the same door.

July 27 – G.T. Cope received a report of auto theft from John Browning, an employee of Car Rental Express. While at Timms Shell Station on River Road, Browning left the vehicle unlocked with the keys in it while he went inside. Someone stole the dark blue1998 Ford Taurus with SC tag #103 WMG.

July 29 – T.B. Dugan was dispatched to 1006 Williams Rd. where Harry Major reported that someone had stolen a black utility trailer, 12 feet long, with a wooden floor and drop tail gate. The trailer was valued at $1075.

July 30 – J. D. Hill responded to 214 Elizabeth Drive where Mendall Bagwell reported the theft of his 1995 Toyota extended cab pickup truck. The truck is champagne in color, with SC tag # 311 DNL. The truck also contained three .22 caliber rifles, two .22 pistols and a 9mm pistol as well. Total value of the loss is estimated at $5500.

Burkhart to serve three life sentences

By Stan Welch

Nearly ten years after the deaths of three people at his hand, Troy Burkhart received three life sentences last week, to be served consecutively, despite his repeated pleas of self-defense.

Judge Buddy Nicholson, Jr. repeatedly turned aside Burkhart’s efforts to revisit evidence in the case, telling him, “We are here to impose sentence. We are not here to retry the case, Mr. Burkhart.”

The case has already been tried twice before, once by Judge Nicholson, and once by Judge Donald Beatty. Both times, the S.C. Supreme court overturned aspects of the court’s decision. The first time, the verdict was overturned because the judge did not instruct the jury that the prosecutor had to prove the self-defense claim to be untrue.

The second trial also resulted in a reversal by the high court, but this time, it was in the sentencing phase of the trial only. The guilty verdict was allowed to stand.

Burkhart was allowed considerable leeway by Judge Nicholson, Jr. at Friday’s hearing, despite making a motion that the judge recuse himself from the case. Judge Nicholson, Jr. and Druanne White, who was solicitor at the time, were involved in the forfeiture hearings for the assets of Ronnie Burkhart, Troy Burkhart’s uncle. Troy Burkhart has consistently claimed that Ronnie Burkhart was a big league cocaine dealer and had sent the three people who died to kill Troy. Burkhart claims that their involvement in the seizure of Ronnie Burkhart’s assets posed a conflict of interest in his case.

Judge Nicholson Jr. denied Burkhart’s motion. He also denied Burkhart’s motion to fire his lawyer. He did, however, give Burkhart time to revisit several issues from the trial, such as testimony which reportedly changed from trial to trial, including that of several expert prosecution witnesses.

Burkhart had faced the death sentence, and has in fact, spent five of his tens years in prison so far on death row. His family had opposed the sentencing hearing Friday on several counts. They said they were given very short notice, when the hearing was rescheduled as a result of the death penalty being removed from consideration in order to bring the case to a close.

“The families of these victims need closure, Your Honor,” said current Solicitor Chrissy Adams, who also read several emotional letters from members of the victims’ families. “They want to see Mr. Burkhart receive the death penalty, but they simply cannot go through another trial and the horror of listening to the testimony about what happened to their loved ones.”

“We had planned on this hearing being held several months from now. Troy’s attorney didn’t inform us of the change until just a few days before the hearing,” said Loris Burkhart, sister of the convicted man. “We had planned to depose witnesses who have new evidence and who might finally be willing to come forth.”

The family did manage to obtain and place into evidence two affidavits from new witnesses, which apparently supported Burkhart’s claim that his uncle had mentioned several times that he wanted Troy dead.

Still, Burkhart received the three life sentences, to run consecutively, meaning that he will spend his entire life in prison. His family swears to continue their efforts to prove his innocence.

Supreme Court case has local implications

By Stan Welch

Earlier this month, in a case with local implications, the South Carolina Supreme Court came down squarely on the side of an open hiring process for government agencies and entities.

The case involved Spartanburg School District Seven, which sought to circumvent the state statute requiring that governments must release information “relating to not fewer than the final three applicants under consideration for a position.” The District had refused to release the names of the five top applicants for the superintendent’s position in 2003.

In order to avoid the requirement to provide information on the top three applicants, the District Board named five “semifinalists”, and then cut the list to two finalists. The Spartanburg Herald-Journal, which had sought the information on the top three by filing a Freedom of Information request, was upheld in its position that the efforts of the District board were a clear attempt to remove the public entirely from the process.

The Court’s ruling made it clear that governments must always err on the side of openness in the hiring process. 

Recently, the West Pelzer Town Council used similar tactics, when they decided not to trim their list of finalists to three, so that the local media would not have access to the information concerning the applicants. Councilman Marshall King conceded to The Journal last week that he had recommended that tactic during an executive session held to review applications for the Town Clerk position.

That decision, as well as other irregularities in the interview process, led one Councilmember to make public what he considered improprieties in the process. Other council members have questioned whether Councilman Mike Moran should have revealed decisions made and actions taken in executive session, but the law is clear. Executive session protections of certain categories of information can be invoked, but they are not required. Those protections are not intended to shield improper actions, and they can be waived by any member of a body at any time.

Seems to Me . . . Open government

By Stan Welch

Recent actions by a variety of local governments have made it obvious that the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act is seen more as an obstacle by local lawmakers than it is as the state law governing openness and honesty in government.

A brief recap shows that four members of County Council recently decided before the actual open vote was taken, to deny District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson access to her district’s recreation funds. The stated purpose of that action was to make Ms. Wilson reveal what the Councilmen claim was her role in the alleged harassment and stalking incidents which were recently investigated by SLED.

Not surprisingly, once Council realized their actions were in violation of the law, they backpedaled, claiming essentially that they all just happened to break a precedence of many years simultaneously and without prior agreement.

A little closer to home, a member of the Williamston Town Council took it upon himself to have the Town’s time capsule dug up with no public announcement, because he felt the mayor had taken too long to do so. The full Council had voted earlier this year to relocate the capsule, as well as to bury a recently prepared capsule at the same time. Various explanations exist for the delays and the failure to exhume the capsule.

Councilman Middleton, Jr. denies any violation of the FOIA, as do other members of Council, who say there was no secret meeting to decide to exhume the capsule. But the decision by one member of Council to undertake such authority raises questions about the absence of a specific vote authorizing Middleton, Jr. to commandeer town employees for any purpose whatsoever.

Other issues concerning executive session have arisen with the Williamston council. Items not authorized for the protections provided by the executive session exemption are frequently discussed in the private meetings. Similar items are placed on the agenda to be discussed in executive sessions. Some of these items have been challenged by The Journal, and have subsequently been removed from the agenda.

That is more than can be said for the members of the West Pelzer Town Council who deliberately set out to circumvent the law during their bungled efforts to hire a town clerk last week. By the admission of one of the members, the Council attempted to circumvent the FOIA by not reducing the list of finalists for the job to a number lower than three. By doing so, Councilman Marshall King said that the newspaper would not have access to the information concerning those applicants. King has since confirmed to The Journal that it was his intention to avoid publishing the names of the applicants, perhaps because three members of Council sought to hijack the hiring process to put in place an under qualified candidate they found to their liking.

Just days before that effort to evade the law, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled on July 16 that such an effort, in this case by Spartanburg School District Seven, was a clear violation of the Freedom of Information Act. The District has argued that they had cut a list of five semifinalists down to two, a number which they said was fewer than three and therefore exempt from the disclosure requirement. The Supreme Court rightly called such semantic games “a statutory interpretation that leads to a result so plainly absurd that it could not have been intended by the Legislature or would defeat the plain legislative intention.”

In addition to their improper manipulation of the interview process, another Council member reports that when the less qualified applicant’s name was introduced at the end of the interview process, one Council member basically said that the job had been promised to her, and that was what was going to happen. Two other Council members, when asked what they thought, both indicated their agreement with the promise made. Such agreement would constitute a vote under the FOIA; and as such, would be illegal, if taken in any setting other than an open scheduled meeting of the Council. Voting in executive session is specifically prohibited under the law.

West Pelzer has botched their efforts to hire a clerk so badly that it remains to be seen if they can hire one. The usual back door political maneuvering, and the insistence on pursuing political agendas instead of the public good that seems to define the political process in that town, once again had the inevitable result.

The Freedom of Information Act is state law. It cannot be said any more plainly than that. It is supported by both civil and criminal penalties, but more importantly, it provides common sense and solid guidance to those seeking to govern fairly. Seems to me some folks in this area should welcome it with open arms, instead of looking for a way around it.

Woodmont plans drop in for students

Woodmont High School officials are hosting several ‘Drop-In Days’ for new and returning students during which students will have the opportunity to pick up class schedules, school ID’s, and textbooks. Seniors are asked to ‘drop-in’ on Wednesday, August 8 from 8:30-11:30 a.m.; Juniors, Aug. 8 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Sophomores are invited to stop by on Thursday, Aug. 9 from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Freshmen should plan on visiting from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10. Orientation for rising freshmen and other new students will be held in the school auditorium on Thursday, August 16 at 6:30 p.m. Students are expected to dress according to the school dress code when attending their respective ‘Drop-In Day’.

 

 

 

 

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