News Archive

(3206) Week of Aug 9, 2006

Town proposing  20% tax increase
Town considering hiring administrator, more help
Reduced staff straining to meet work requirements
Sewer treatment facility remains issue for residents, town
Dominos victim of attempted robbery
West Pelzer residents urged to boil water
School bus burns
FOI case may go to Supreme Court
Seems to Me . . . Supporting state athletes

Town proposing  20% tax increase

The Town of Williamston will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday, August 24, to receive public comment on a proposed property tax millage increase for the fiscal year 2007. The town is proposing a tax millage increase from the present 106 mills to a rate of 127 mills, an approximate increase of 20%. The increase will be effective for the 2006 tax year billing which will go out later this year, officials said. The tax receipts will be applied to the 2007 budget, according to Appalachian Council of Governments advisor Joe Newton.

The tax levy normally would have been set with the town’s 2006 budget which should have been approved by December 31, 2005 due to the town operating on a calendar year.  Vote on a proposed budget was postponed after details of the town’s financial poor condition became public.

Numerous detailed discussions on the $3.39 million general fund budget and the $1.8 million water/sewer fund budget were held by town officials, with the help of accountant Bob Daniel and Appalachian Council of Governments advisor Joe Newton.

The town’s 2006 budget was officially approved five months and 24 drafts later when the council unanimously approved it in June of this year. 

Town officials immediately began concentrating on the 2007 budget. The millage rate for the 2007 budget is based on the tax levy being discussed now, Newton said.

The proposed 2007 budget, which is currently under discussion, is based on general fund revenues of $2,648,100 (tentative) and expenses of $2,886,531. If approved by council, the tax levy will make up the difference.

The 2007 draft budget includes repayment of a $250,000 TAN note (if borrowed in 2006), repayment of other debt, and building a contingency fund to $600,000.  There may also be a reduction in the sanitation fee, officials have said.

The water and sewer fund draft budget projects revenues of $1,809,300 and $1,788,989 in expenses. The revenues include a $173,300 transfer (loan) from the general fund and a $150,000 restricted reserve fund. The 2007 draft budget contains numerous estimates and unknowns and will be revised over the next few months, Newton cautioned.

Town considering hiring administrator, more help

During their regular monthly meeting Monday, Willliamston Town Council set the date for the town’s election and scheduled a number of special meetings to deal with a tax increase and other issues.

Council unanimously approved a quote by Jim Darby for electrical repairs on a panel box and wiring in the park.

Council unanimously approved first reading on an election ordinance setting the town’s municipal election to coincide with the general election on Nov. 7.

The non-partisan election will be for Ward 1 and Ward 2 seats currently held by Councilmen Greg Cole and Marion Middleton Jr. The four year terms will begin January 1, 2007 and expire December 31, 2010.

Council then discussed hiring an administrator. Councilman Otis Scott asked if there was enough funds to pay one. Councilman Middleton said he thought an administrator would be benenficial on an interim part time basis. He suggested the town create the position, fund it and hire someone for six months.

Appalachian Council of Government Advisor Joe Newton said hiring an administrator for a short time would be a problem but said if budgeted, “you could find the money to do it.”

Newton said an administrator’s salary would be approximately $50,000 plus benefits or between approximately $50,000 to $70,000. He recommended a fulltime position but said that it would depend on whether the mayor and council could work with one.

Mayor Clardy said that hiring an administrator would most affect him. He said that with the strides taken by the town recently and with the daily functions being handled by the staff, there may not be a need for an administrator.

Clardy said, “It gives me one more position to point fingers,” and suggested the town add where it is needed most, referencing discussions about hiring in the street department.

Councilman Cole suggested to look at it financially. Council eventually approved a resolution by Councilman Middleton to vote on the administrator question at the Sept. 11 meeting

Mayor Clardy reported that air quality sampling will be done in the Gatewood subdivision. Clardy said a public meeting will be held with the residents of Gatewood and Millwee subdivisions on August 10 at 6 p.m. Clardy said that the meeting will be announced so that a quorum of council can attend, but will not be a formal meeting of council and no business will be conducted.

Newton said that he had talked with the town’s engineers (Goldie and Associates) and that they are near to having the capacity information available. He urged the town’s representatives to meet with the county engineers to discuss the capacity issues as soon as posible.

Mayor Clardy said that he wanted to be sure of what he has to discuss and did not want a premature meeting with the county without the information in a discussion that could lead to litigation.

Councilman Middleton urged the town to set an appointment to meet with County Administrator Joey Preston sometime in August. Council approved the resolution 5-0.

There was some discussion about the minutes of meetings.

Clardy said that the audio recordings are available and that the town clerk is working to have minutes complete. Clardy said he had promised to have them up to date by the end of July but they were not yet complete.

Responding to a question by Councilman Middleton concerning the consequences, Newton responded that the lack of minutes would primarily cause a lot of confusion. Newton said the minutes could be highlighted and do not have to be verbatim.

(Reports on all Williamston Council meetings are available online at www.thejournalonline.com)

Council also discussed a clean up date for the town, deciding to allow  employees to work extra hours in an effort to get caught up on limb and C&D pickup during the week of August 14 -19.

Council approved overtime of 3 hours per day Monday through Friday and 8 additional hours on Saturday for the town’s street and water department employees. The approval will allow them to make the extra effort to pick up limbs and C&D debris throughout the town.

Town employees said the water and street department have combined their efforts and have been working on the East Main and Greenville Drive side of town. They will put extra effort on the West Main/Anderson Drive side of the creek during the cleanup next week.

Residents are requested to put out limbs and other C&D items this weekend and until the crews come around their street, for town employees to pick up during the week.

Residents are also being asked to not put out additional items after the town crews make a pickup until at least the end of August.

The effort is also being made to get the town ready for the Spring Water Festival on August 26.

Residents are encouraged to do what they can to help spruce up the town prior to the event.

Council unanimously approved the overtime.

Mayor Clardy said he wanted to accept bids on limb removal just in case the work was not completed.

Council voted 3-2 to accept outside bids from interested parties with Councilmen Cole and Middleton opposed.

There was also some discussion about hiring two employees in the street department, which was hard hit with the recent personnel cuts. (See separate story)

There was some discussion on a fuel card and accountability on fuel use.

There was discussion on the old town hall. Mayor Clardy stated that he was to get one additional bid on moving the structure. Clardy also suggested the town appoint a committee to save the old town hall. Council unanimously approved the motion.

Anyone interested in serving on the committee is asked to contact the Town of Williamston business office at 847-7473.

Clardy said that he is hoping to get a grant and use other funds to preserve the structure and that he does not intend to use general fund monies for the project.

Clardy also said that the time capsule will need to be moved from the property and be relocated to the Municipal Center property.

He also said that the Sept. 11 memorial was permanently set in granite recently.

The expense was covered by the Sesquicetennial Committee which has had numerous fundraisers including selling souvenirs at the Spring Water Festival to raise money for the project. No town general fund money has been used for the project, a spokesperson for the committee said.

Acting on a motion by Councilman Scott and a second by Councilman Middleton, Council unanimously approved moving the time capsules. A date will be announced so that the public can be involved, Clardy said.

The town attorney reported that all but two properties have been closed and that they are in the process of being resurveyed.

Council unanimously approved a request by Robbie  Owens to pay for repairs to a trailer which he loaned to the town last year. The trailer was used to haul donated items for hurricane relief to Grand Isle.

According to Owens, the trailer had damage. Council requested a second estimate on performing the repairs and will check to see if the town insurance will cover it.

Council then went into executive session to disucss a legal issue at the request of the town attorney.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Kempie Shepard requested use of a tennis court in the park for skateboarders.

The request resulted in a discussion about the town’s liability and insurance coverage and resulted in a decision to further look into this.

Council will hold a budget work session next Thursday August 17 at 5:30 p.m. followed by a meeting at 6:30 which will include discussion on hiring additional personnel.

Also on the agenda will be second reading on the election ordinance and posible budget amendments related to additional hiring.

Council will meet at 6 p.m. on August 24 for first reading and public hearing on a tax levy for 2007. 

Council will hold a called meeting on August 31 at 6 p.m for second reading on the tax levy and a budget work session.

Reduced staff straining to meet work requirements

By Stan Welch

Months after the Williamston Town Council slashed jobs in an effort to recover from an ongoing financial crisis, the remaining members of the street and water departments are feeling the pinch of a growing labor load on a fixed amount of manpower.

Three Town employees shared their concerns and their expectations with The Journal this week. Tim Hood, head of the water and sewer department, said the reduced manpower and the demands of the Town has erased the lines between departments. “We don’t work for one department or the other anymore,” he said. “We work for the Town of Williamston. If we need to pull people from somewhere else to get something done, that’s what we do.”

Earlier this year, when the true extent of the Town’s financial problems became evident, finance and government experts were called in to help the Town plan a response. One of the first steps taken was to slash the Town payroll.

The water and sewer department lost three men and the street and sanitation department lost nine. One man is currently out with an injury suffered away from work. That leaves a six man crew to pick up garbage, including limbs, construction debris, and other items, as well as perform repairs and maintenance at the wastewater treatment plant; perform maintenance on all the equipment used; cut grass on the Town’s property; and repair any broken water or sewer lines.

John Owen, of the street and sanitation department, says that the garbage crew can only get to one ward each day from Monday through Thursday.

“We used to have two three man crews and two trucks for that. It took two days. We also had four men working every weekday picking up limbs and other trash. Now, we’re working harder than we ever have, and I think we’re doing a pretty good job for the guys we have. Every single one of us has worked on the garbage trucks,” he said.

Randy Woodson agrees, saying that people need to understand that the crews have been cut to the bone. “I have personally been from one end of the town to the other, and if there are any limbs left from the ice storm, they were dragged to the street after we went through the first time. There are limbs out there but not from the ice storm anymore. “

The three men bring the experience of a combined total of 54 years working for the Town to their jobs. They like their jobs and they want to keep working for the Town. “I’ve lived here a long time and I don’t want to live or work anywhere else,” said Hood. “We want to see the Town recover, and we know that it’s going to be tight for a while to come. But we just want the people to understand that they need to be patient.”

Owen says people can do more than just be patient. “If they will separate the various parts of the trash they have, like limbs from the construction debris, and rocks and gravel from everything else, it would be a huge help. We just don’t have the time to sort it for them, but different things have to go to different places. Also, if they would please not put their piles on the sidewalks or in the way of fire hydrants, we would really appreciate that too. People think we’re skipping them sometimes, when really, we’re just taking what is ready to go because we don’t have the time to sort everything for the people.”

Tree limbs are being hauled to a shredding site on property the town once owned near the back gate to the wastewater treatment plant. That property was sold as part of the Town’s efforts to raise cash, and has since been either sold or leased to a contractor who periodically brings in a shredder to reduce the material to a usable product.

The nearness of the site saves both travel time to the Starr landfill, as well as wear and tear on the trucks used to haul the material. “So far,” says Owen, “we’re keeping the equipment up and running without too much trouble.”

Hood says that the Town has a gentleman’s agreement with its neighbors to provide assistance if it’s really needed. “We have a good working relationship with the other towns and water companies around here, but they have to take care of their towns first. It worries me that we are stretched so thin, but so far this year, repairs have been pretty light,” he said, knocking on the wooden table he was seated at.

Hood also pointed out that all the Town’s employees are on call 24/7. “We all know what we have to do if an emergency arises, but we’d like people to remember that we have lives and families too. We have other things we need and want to do. But the morale is higher than I anticipated at this point, and I’m hoping that everyone will stay with it and continue to work for the Town.”

Owen and Woodson agree, saying that the people who are left get along well and work to help each other out. “The guys are pulling together because we know we have to just to get the work done,” said Woodson. Said Owen, “Just be patient with us folks. We have to prioritize almost everything we do these days. What’s more important, fixing a water leak or picking up limbs?”

Extra effort planned for limb pickup

The Town of Williamston has authorized overtime for town employees in the street and water department in an effort to clean up limbs and debris throughout the town next week.

Council designated the week of August 14 -19 as a special cleanup date and town employees will put in an additional three hours daily next week and a full day on Saturday for limb pickup.

Residents are encouraged to put out limbs and construction debris this weekend, before the pickup begins. Construction and demolition (C&D) items will also be picked up but town officials urge that limbs, leaves and C&D items be separated and not include any garbage or other trash. Garbage collection will remain on regular schedule.

Construction debris include items such as plywood, 2x4s, furniture or related and are hauled off by the town if the individual is doing the work. If a contractor is hired, the contractor is responsible to remove these materials.

Town employees said the water and street departments have combined their efforts to get the town cleaned up.

They have been working on the East Main and Greenville Drive side of town. They will put extra effort on the West Main/Anderson Drive side of the creek during the cleanup next week.

Residents are requested to put out limbs and other C&D items this weekend and up until the crews come around their street. Residents are  being asked to not put out additional items after the town crews make a pickup, until at least the end of August. The Williamston Post Office is also asking customers to place their trash receptacles away from the mail boxes so that the carrier’s approach to the box will remain clear. Williamston Post Master Michelle Orr said carriers are experiencing difficulties  maneuvering around blocked boxes on trash pick up days.

The effort is also being made to get the town ready for the Spring Water Festival on August 26. The Springwater Committee that is organizing the festival has planned  work day in Mineral Spring Park this Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Anyone interested in helping get the park ready for the annual event is invited to participate. Work clothes and gloves are recommended. Volunteers are also asked to bring rakes, leaf bags and weedeaters. For more information call 847-7361.

Williamston Police Chief David Baker said his department is also planning to crack down on nuisance situations in the town.

Baker said residents should be in compliance on junk cars, high grass, garbage, limbs and debris and other problems. Residents are urged to call the Williamston Police Department to report situations which are unsightly, hazardous or that may be out of compliance.

Sewer treatment facility remains issue for residents, town

By Stan Welch

Williamston Town Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. is concerned about the Town’s wastewater problems. He’s worried about health concerns and reports of offensive odors from residents near the wastewater treatment plant. He’s equally worried that the fallout from those problems could affect public acceptance of the Town’s plan to change its method of treating and discharging wastewater.

“Obviously, we must address and relieve our residents’ worries about the health issues that may or may not result from the leachate being accepted. But the Town has to make some changes in its overall wastewater treatment methods, and the best choice available to us looks like the land use application. The two issues are separate, but the leachate issue is threatening to have an impact on the land use idea. We really need to do a better job of handling those two issues, and handling them separately,” said Middleton, Jr.,  in a conversation with The Journal last week.

Both concerns appear to be well founded. Complicating the picture further is the fact that the acceptance of the leachate is generating thousands of dollars in revenue that the Town sorely needs during its current financial crisis; a crisis that has been greatly relieved by the imposition of and increase in various fees in recent months.

David Watson, city administrator for Belton, which continues to receive some leachate as well, says there is no formal arrangement between the Town and Anderson Regional Landfill, LLC.. “If they show up, they bring their analysis of the contents of the tanker, and we let them dump it. I think we had a tanker come in Monday,” said Watson.

Residents of the Gatewood area, which is adjacent to the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), met last week at the home of James Bowman, Sr., who has been both vocal and visible in his opposition to the town’s acceptance of leachate from the Anderson Regional Landfill. They continue to report a variety of health issues, including nausea, stomach problems, respiratory trouble and nosebleeds, as well as the continuing presence of an offensive, sulphurous odor.

“Several people have been to see their doctors, and some of them have told us that their doctors said the odor and fumes could definitely be contributing to the trouble,” said Bowman, in an interview given Tuesday. “Today, the odor was very bad, but different. It had a very acidic, rotten smell to it.”

Melissa Kinman, who lives in the area, contacted The Journal last week to discuss her health concerns about the arrangement, which has resulted in the dumping of hundreds of thousands of gallons of landfill leachate into the town’s pretreatment system. Her voice was hoarse and scratchy, a condition she says resulted from exposure to the fumes and odors in the area. “I’ve sounded like this for a month, now,” said Kinman. “I don’t feel bad, but my voice just won’t clear up. Besides that, my eight year old niece has had two sudden nosebleeds in a month, and my father had a bad nosebleed while he was cutting the grass a couple weeks ago. We’ve had to quit walking the kids around the block, because of the taste you get in your mouth from being outdoors.”

Bowman, who spent forty years working in various aspects of the chemical industry, and who says he once held a wastewater operator’s license himself, says that hydrogen sulfide is a toxic gas whose smell is very similar to the smell residents are experiencing. “That is a very dangerous gas, and it could cause many of the complaints we’re having from our residents.” Sonya Harrison, a representative of Goldie & Associates, the town’s wastewater engineers, who currently operate the plant, says that hydrogen sulphide would not result from the leachate, but could result from other aspects of the plant’s operation.

Harrison and the Mayor announced last week that an air quality test program would be conducted to determine the status of the air near the WWTP. Results of those tests won’t be available for several weeks, however.

In the meantime, a public forum is scheduled for August 10 at 6 p.m. to allow residents another opportunity to air their concerns. Bowman and others plan to attend. One resident, Mindy Fox, says she wants to know why her complaint that the driver of a truck from Pelzer Septic Tank Service had his own key to the WWTP, and was dumping sewage directly into the treatment plant by himself last weekend was ignored.

“I saw him headed down to the gate as I was leaving the house, so I followed him. I saw him open the gate with his own key. He was shocked when he turned around and saw me there. I called the police later to ask them what he was doing there, and they said they didn’t know. I told them I wanted them to make a written report of what I was saying. The next day, Sunday, I went to the police department. I asked for a copy of the report and they said they didn’t make one. They said he didn’t do anything illegal, but it seems strange to me that he should have his own key to the plant.”

Bowman said that Mayor Phillip Clardy had promised to keep them informed about upcoming meetings, but hasn’t been in touch lately. “He was supposed to contact each one of us. I saw in the paper where there’s supposed to be a meeting Thursday, but I don’t know what time. We have people who work second and third shifts. They need a little more notice to make their plans.”

Bowman also said that he has been disappointed at the indifference DHEC has shown to the problems. “You see the Mayor on TV or in the papers calling leachate rain runoff, which is just a lie. Then you ask DHEC about the problems, and their position seems to be that they don’t care what comes into the plant. They just care about what goes into the river. In the meantime, those of us caught in between don’t matter to them. Somebody needs to do some studying up on what leachate really is and what it can contain. This is a serious problem for us.”

The Town of Williamston will hold a public forum this Thursday at 6 p.m. for residents to express concerns about the sewer treatment facility.

Dominos victim of attempted robbery

The Williamston Police Department is investigating an attempted armed robbery of a local restaurant and investigated an incident in which the driver of a stolen vehicle attempted to leave the scene and almost ran over a reserve police officer and hit fuel pumps.

Williamston police are investigating the attempted robbery of the Domino’s Pizza location, 14 N. Hamilton St., on July 30.

Reports state an employee noticed a suspect outside the door and was able to lock the door. The suspect then presented a handgun and hit the glass door with the gun. The suspect then ran behind the building.

The employee called the Williamston Police Department. The Anderson County K9 unit responded and attempted to locate the robbery suspect. After approximately one hour, the dog lost the scent. According to reports, the suspect was described as a black male wearing a white t-shirt and dark colored pants.

The incident remains under investigation. J. R. McCauley II, D. W. Alexander investigated.

July 28 - Jerry Leon White, 45, 215 Maco Terrace, Greenville, was arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill, financial transaction card fraud, failure to stop for police blue light, possession of stolen vehicle and suspended license, after an incident at Enmark Station, 934 Anderson St., Williamston.

According to Williamston Police Chief David Baker,  officers responded to the location in reference to a person having trouble with a credit card.

Upon arriving at the scene, Baker said the vehicle was attempting to pull off and ignored efforts made to stop him. An open bottle of Old English 800 was observed between the driver’s legs.

The vehicle then attempted to back up almost striking a fuel pump and then a police vehicle and a reserve officer. The vehicle, a Subaru station wagon was then pursued to the Hwy. 20 and Hwy. 29 intersection where officers terminated the pursuit. The vehicle was reported stolen in Greenville County. The suspect was later arrested by the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office when he returned to a former place of employment. Chief D. Baker investigated.

 

July 29 - A 15 year-old juvenile was arrested for malicious damage to a motor vehicle after the driver of the vehicle, Michael Clinkscales, 43, 18 Randall St., Williamston reported that four juveniles entered his 1992 Honda Accord and demanded a ride to a local restaurant. When told no, the juveniles exited the vehicle, and one kicked the right quarter panel causinng $250 in damage. The 15 year old juvenile was later arrested and referred to family court. and released to a parent. Sgt. D. W. Alexander, J. R. McCauley II investigated.

July 28 - David Bryan Mitchell, 30, 126 Harper Street, Williamston reported a tag valued at $45 stolen from a 1982 Chevrolet while parked at a restaurant on Anderson Dr. K. P. Evatt investigated.

July 28 - Ace Hardware, Pelzer Avenue, Williamston reported an extractor valued at $1100 rented and not returned. K. P. Evatt investigated.

July 26 - An employee of Sun Trust Bank reported a customer threatened bank employees when he was told he had to come inside to complete a transaction. K. P. Evatt investigated.

West Pelzer residents urged to boil water

A broken water main in West Pelzer has led to a boil water recommendation from DHEC for the next few days. Health officials are urging the precaution because, said Mike Mahaffey, water department head for the town, “Anytime you shut the system down, the chance of contamination exists. We don’t think that there was any contamination of the line, but we did close several valves while we tried to isolate the leak, so we are being careful.” Mahaffey says that workers broke the two inch line on Sylvia Lane while doing a retap on Tuesday morning.

 Mahaffey  said that Kevin Simpson, Rural Water’s water circuit rider for the area came by later in the morning.  He was scheduled to come by anyway, but once he saw what we had going on, he stayed with us while we flushed the system. We had already repaired the line by the time he came by.”

Mahaffey said that sampling of the system will be done back to back for two days, with testing to be done by Commonwealth Labs in Greenville. DHEC will review the results and certify the system as clean, if the results show that. The lines should be approved by Friday, said Mahaffey.

School bus burns

An incident involving a School District One bus fire earlier this week remains under investigation, officials said. Approximately 20 students were evacuated from the bus shortly after 4 p.m. Monday, when smoke was seen coming from the vehicle, school officials said.

The fire that destroyed a District One School bus Monday is similar to fires that have occurred on the same model of bus elsewhere in the state within the past year.

 School officials are praising the actions of the driver, Sonya Hall in evacuating the bus.  Hall has been a bus driver for 9 years. No one was harmed as a result of the fire, which occurred while the bus was on its route along Shackleburg Road.

 The Model D buses have experienced similar problems in the past, prompting a statewide inspection of the 2100 buses bought in 1995 by the state. The bus which burned Monday had been inspected for potential problems. One precaution which has been suggested by state maintenance officials is the separation of the battery’s positive cable from any contact with the power steering fluid line on the buses.

 The design of the buses, which places the engines in the rear allows for safer evacuation, since any smoke or fumes from an engine fire tend to move away from the main exit at the front of the buses.

FOI case may go to Supreme Court

By Stan Welch

In response to a court ruling earlier this year, District seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and her attorneys have asked that the South Carolina State Supreme Court hear the case.

 Documents filed on July 31 with the State Supreme Court challenge the previous ruling made by Judge Alex Macaulay in a writ of mandamus lawsuit, which was brought by Wilson in late 2004, in an effort to obtain access to legal and financial records of the County which she claims are public information.

In that ruling, Judge Macaulay not only upheld county administrator Joey Preston’s position that the legal vendor files are privileged information and the privilege belongs to the Council as a whole,  he also effectively rescinded Judge Buddy Nichols Jr.’s prior instructions that Preston provide Wilson with certain financial information without delay.

Nichols had ruled that Preston could not delay the release of such general financial data as the general ledger 110 reports. Preston had admitted withholding those reports from Wilson for the purpose of trying to determine what Wilson might take public issue with; or to quote Preston’s sworn deposition, “to decide what she might throw at us.”

In the appeal filed July 31, Wilson’s attorneys refer to an opinion issued by the S.C. Attorney General in 2001, which stated “A member of county council must have access to all pertinent information regarding the operation of county government. . . Access to such county government information must be provided in a timely, easily readable manner.”

The documents go on to state that in denying Wilson’s writ of mandamus, “The Court held that a county administrator possesses an implied duty to determine whether county records are protected by the attorney client privilege, and as such, the release of the records is discretionary, not ministerial, and not subject to enforcement by mandamus.”

Wilson’s attorneys will argue in the appeal that she is unable to perform her duties as an elected official without access to the information, and that Preston is simply an employee whose job of providing the records is a ministerial, and not, act “involving the mere execution of a specific duty arising from fixed and designated facts.”

The appeal filed holds that the issue is worthy of being heard by the State’s highest court because “The relationship of elected officials to their employees is a matter of statewide import, and given that numerous counties and municipalities have chosen the council-administrator form of government, it is appropriate for the Court “ to hear and rule on the case.”

Wilson has repeatedly expressed her confidence that the Macaulay ruling will be reversed by the higher court. “It is incomprehensible that a judge would rule in the favor of reducing an elected official’s access to what is clearly public information,” said Wilson.

Seems to Me . . .
Supporting state athletes

By Stan Welch

As a reporter of almost a quarter century’s experience, I usually observe pomposity and hypocrisy with a fairly even temperament. I’ve seen enough of both to have developed a certain tolerance for them, although certainly not an immunity. But there are certain occasions and certain circumstances that combine those two phenomena in such a way as to cause my hackles to rise, and my stomach to churn.

Such was the case last week when the NCAA and the NAACP (or for the duration of this column, the NCAACP) once again held hands and sang “We Shall Overcome (in South Carolina.)” Once again, these two fine organizations, these two models of fairness and integrity, have combined forces to attack the Palmetto State for having the audacity to exercise its sovereign autonomy several years ago by removing the Confederate Battle Flag from atop its Statehouse, and placing it, instead, at the Confederate Soldier’s Monument on the Statehouse grounds. I believe the unfortunate phrase popular among flag supporters at the time was “Off the dome and in your face”.

The compromise was offered and approved after the black leadership in the General Assembly gave it their blessing and made it clear that such a move would be sufficient to smooth their ruffled feathers, and those of their followers. Then, once the compromise was approved, those same leaders were sandbagged by NAACP leaders from outside and inside South Carolina, proving that carpetbaggers come in a variety of colors and shapes. 

The decision to move the flag, while controversial, should have settled the issue of any further action. It escapes comprehension that any thinking person, black or white, could argue that locating the Confederate Battle Flag at the Confederate Soldier’s Monument could be anything but supremely appropriate. See, the Confederate soldiers who are rightfully honored there actually carried that flag into battle. That’s how the flag got its name. And the Confederate Soldier’s Monument was built to honor the brave men and boys who died while fighting under that flag; so doesn’t that seem like a natural location for it? Or does the NCAACP think that we should just forget the part of our heritage and history that came before the Civil Rights Act of 1965?

By that, I mean the history of all South Carolinians, both black and white, We are all Carolinians. Some of us may have a higher tolerance for carpetbaggers than others, but we are all Carolinians. Decisions concerning our state should be made in this state, and not in the national board rooms of organizations that see nothing more in South Carolina than a fund raising opportunity.

Apparently, however, the NCAACP in all its righteous superiority, considers that notion unacceptable, and will enforce its desires on us po’ ignunt  Southrons by withholding any tournament or playoff games from us in order to force us to meet their definition of political correctness. It is difficult to express how offensive this sanctimonious load of manure is, and on how many different levels.

This would all be funny if it weren’t so sad. The sad part is that the NCAACP considers this a burning issue, while the fact that the NCAACP routinely and cynically exploits black athletes for its own commercial purposes remains a back burner issue. Each year, thousands of black athletes enter colleges on scholarships awarded for athletic prowess. They receive those scholarships based on lower and more flexible academic standards that the NCAACP have implemented over the last thirty years. Each year, thousands of black athletes leave college without a diploma, or any better prospects for a job than they had when they left high school.

This dumbing down process began with the discovery that black kids didn’t do as well on SAT scores as white kids. That was determined to be due to a cultural bias against black kids that manifested itself in the way that the tests were actually written. The education industry’s response to this was to lobby for a lowering of the standards, rather than an improvement in performance.

The colleges were naturally all for the lower standards, because a running back who can run a 4.3 forty yard dash, but can’t read above the sixth grade level, is still a running back who can run a 4.3 forty yard dash. The NAACP wanted the lower standards because they apparently felt that it was better to send an unprepared student to college than not send one at all.

 Oh, they all chanted fairness and opportunity when the lower standards were approved, but the fact is, those lower standards led directly to the level of exploitation that exists in college athletics today. Colleges with major athletic programs consistently graduate less than half of the black scholarship athletes that they admit. The traditionally black colleges do better, perhaps because they really care whether a black eighteen year old high school graduate becomes a twenty two year old college graduate, instead of a twenty year old store clerk, or welfare recipient.

The nature of big time college football today is that it simply consumes athletes. It takes a lot of bodies to field teams the size that colleges field today. Injuries, academic requirements, even reduced ones, and other factors all add to the attrition rate.

The level of competition at the top of the food chain in college athletics demands that the best athletes be used, and if they get paid off in a jacket with letters on it, rather than a diploma, hey, check out that won/lost record baby!

NCAA Division 1-A athletics programs, especially in basketball and football, have become farm systems for professional sports. Forgetting for a moment that the politicization of college athletics only confirms the NCAA’s commitment to profits, it seems to me that if the NCAACP really has the interests of the athletes at heart, graduation rates and academic performance would be the paramount issue.

The NCAACP said in the paper the other day that these athletes deserve to know that they are welcome in the state in which they are competing. I challenge the NCAACP to verify a single incident where the State of South Carolina showed anything but the utmost in hospitality to any athletes of any color who have competed in this state over the last ten years.

I’m not talking about some drunk redneck at a ballgame shouting something stupid; I’m talking about any official or institutional sign, however slight, that black athletes aren’t welcome in South Carolina. If the atmosphere is so poisonous here, why do so many black athletes from South Carolina attend colleges here; and more importantly, why do so many from other states come here to attend college?

It seems to me, if I were a black athlete, I’d be more interested in knowing that I was valued by the school I was attending, and that my education was of real concern to the two fine and righteous organizations that worry so much about the flag and where it flies in South Carolina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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