(3207) Week of August 8, 2007
Mayors repond; Council
meeting turns ugly as attacks continue
By Stan Welch
Just when it seems as if Anderson County politics has gotten as strange and confrontational as it can get, new levels are reached. Tuesday night saw a series of events and confrontations that lasted for five hours, and left many in the audience and the Council, both worn out and angry.
Along the way, perhaps the most taboo word that can be used in a public meeting was used by a Council member, the recreation funds of Councilwoman Cindy Wilson were again hijacked, this time by Council members who spent them for her, despite her objections.
Also, a relentless attack on her was mounted by the same four Council members who denied her access to her funds two weeks ago, and a vote of confidence for County Administrator Joey Preston was less resounding than it might have been.
Four mayors (Mayors Clardy, Paxton, Davis, and Meyers) from District Seven appeared to protest the Councils actions two weeks ago when they voted against Ms. Wilsons appropriations requests on their behalf.
Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy reminded them that the four mayors present represented twelve thousand people. I read with shock about the Councils actions in regard to Ms. Wilsons efforts to appropriate funds. I have never seen such behavior in my nearly eight years as mayor. I would ask that whenever you begin to take hostage the peoples revenues as a tool of some political scheme to put a member in what you consider to be her place, remember that there are others who are affected. Those people are watching this Councils actions, and more importantly your motives.
Mayor Earl Meyers, of Honea Path, informed Council that eighty per cent of the children who registered for football recently actually live outside the town limits. We run the Countys recreation programs in Honea Path because this County does not have a recreation program. All we asked for was $5000 from you. But we now request that you keep that money. We wont have our children dragged into the middle of a childish political fight. This is all about revenge, and dirty tricks, and games. Take that money and spend it on a course in manners, and civility, and humility.
Councilman Michael Thompson asked that he be allowed time for a rebuttal, though it was unclear what he hoped to rebut.
Chairman Waldrep, unaware of the real purpose behind Thompsons request, suggested that he simply leave the situation alone. We might get into a rebuttal of the rebuttal kind of situation here, Mr. Thompson, said Waldrep.
Thompson, however, insisted, and made a motion to amend the agenda to allow for the rebuttal. The motion was successful. Immediately, Mr. Thompson began his presentation, which had already been loaded onto the computer for projection onto the screen and onto each Council members laptop computer.
The presentation included a copy of a letter received by six of the Council members. The letter was vulgar and talked about county administrator Joey Preston and allegations of criminal wrongdoing by him. The letter went on to say that when Prestons crimes were uncovered, the Council members who supported him would go to prison as well.
The letter concluded by asking if the Council member had ever been subjected to a specific sexual act which is generally associated with being in prison. The letter was very crude and blunt in describing the act, a description which Mr. Thompson read aloud, after warning those in attendance, as well as those who watch the tape delayed meeting on television, that the language was offensive.
Thompson proceeded to explain that his family had been subjected to the foul letters and they did not deserve such treatment. Thompson went on to say that Ms. Wilson didnt receive that letter, and questioned why. I dont know why she didnt receive one. He went on to accuse the Anderson County Taxpayers Association (ACTA) of being responsible for the letters. I firmly believe that by their actions they are responsible for these letters.
ACTA spokesperson Dan Harvell, who was seated in the front row, jumped to his feet, shouting, You are out of your mind! Another member of the audience, also apparently an ACTA member, also protested Thompsons statements. He was quickly surrounded by park police and a Sheriffs deputy, but was assisted from the chamber by two friends. No arrests were made, but the tensions remained very high both on the dais and in the audience.
Thompson went on to complain about a local radio station which is frequently critical of County policy, and which has also been critical of Thompson.
They sound like a bunch of rabid dogs. I dont listen to them. He also invoked the Patriot Act and read several sections which he said proved the chain of cause and effect between the actions of the ACTA and the radio station and the writing of the letters.
The actions of these people condemn them. They have created a frenzy that caused these letters to be written.
West Pelzer Mayor Peggy Paxton, who had not spoken earlier, asked for a chance to speak at this point. She told Council that she felt that her constituents were being penalized for no reason. Whatevers happening in your personal life shouldnt affect us. Five thousand dollars is a lot of money to a small town like ours. I am standing up for these folks because no one else is doing it. Ms. Wilson has always helped us in every way she can, and we appreciate her.
Ms. Wilson responded to Thompsons charges, saying, If these were federal offenses, why werent postal inspectors brought in? Where is the FBI? Mr. Thompson, you must be prepared to back this up. This is defamation of character and slander.
Thompson then said that he had not and did not accuse Ms. Wilson of anything. Wilson responded that published newspaper reports had quoted him as saying she had something to do with it.
District Six Councilman Ron Wilson was clearly angered by the presentation. This is a very clever way to try and mask what he (Thompson) headed up two weeks ago, an attack on Cindy Wilson. He told me the day after the last Council meeting that what they did then needed to be done because Cindy knew who wrote those letters. At Hilton Head last week, he changed his tune and said that ACTA knew what was going on. So tonight, he attacks them. This is so utterly ridiculous. This is a free society, and people can say anything they want to about us. If you want to know about that, walk in my shoes. If Mr. Thompson cant take the heat, he should get out of kitchen. I cant believe anyone could be so silly as to try and offer such a convoluted answer.
Chairman Waldrep pointed out that there is plenty of blame to go around, including Mr. Preston.
In forty one years in politics, I have never experienced the kind of bad feeling we have here. The administrator deals with a certain clique and wont deal with other members of Council. Mr. Preston, no one is completely innocent in these problems. To quote (the cartoon character) Pogo, We have met the enemy and he is us I dont see why anyone would want to continue to serve on a body that has behaved so badly.
Despite Waldreps pleas for tolerance and cooperation, the tactics used by the majority at the last meeting continued with an interesting twist. As the Council members began to make their appropriations requests, Councilmen Greer and Thompson made appropriations from Ms. Wilsons recreation account, much to her surprise. Greer appropriated $1000 from the District 7 fund for a senior citizen group.
Mr. Thompson appropriated a total of $18,500 for the four towns represented at the meeting from the District Seven account, despite Wilsons protests that she needed to dole those funds out more propitiously in order to stretch them as far as possible. If this is your idea of some cute game, it is not funny. Some of these appropriations havent been requested yet.
Mayor Clardy said after the meeting that he didnt know if he wanted to accept money stained with blood from an attempted political assassination, or not. This seems like an effort to drive a wedge between us and our Councilwoman. That sort of thing is uncalled for. Ms. Wilson has always done everything for us that we have asked, if she was able.
Wilson made a motion to try and prevent such raiding of her funds if she opposed the specific appropriation, but the motion was defeated by the four vote majority. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Waldrep supported her motion. Mr. Greer told her that she had once appropriated funds form his paving account for work done in her district. She retorted that he had approved that appropriation, and had voted for it.
Greer did change his vote to allow majority approval of the expenditure of some $245,000 in funds for a variety of paving and drainage projects in District Seven. The other three members of the four vote cabal all abstained from those votes, while Waldrep and Wilson supported the requests.
The attack on Wilson continued as Council members made their remarks at the end of the meeting.
The cabal of four members each took turns accusing Wilson of everything from harming the countys economic development efforts to rudeness. Mr. Greer, obviously stung by broadcast and published comments saying that he had voted against funding recreation programs in which his own grandchildren participated, showed pictures of children playing on the screen behind the Council, while he droned on for forty five minutes with his litany of offenses reportedly committed by Ms. Wilson.
Greer, in the middle of his prolonged defense of his actions, asked for a vote of confidence for County Administrator Joey Preston.
Mr. Waldrep, who had earlier criticized Preston and financial analyst Gina Humphreys for their failure to provide clear financial information to the Council, calling them Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, abstained from the vote, as did Ms. Wilson, who cited her pending case against Preston before the S.C. Supreme Court, over access to public information. Preston received a 5-0-2 vote.
Councilman McAbee accused Ms. Wilson of refusing to cooperate with the SLED investigations which found insufficient evidence of any wrongdoing to allow Solicitor Adams to take legal action. Wilson denied those charges.
Councilwoman Floyd said her people dont care about what Mr. Preston drives or what he does in his personal life, as long things in her district continue to improve. She also admitted that her actions were designed to deliver a message to Ms. Wilson.
The four Council members all attempted to distance themselves from earlier statements that the actions they had taken previously were intended to bring Ms. Wilson to heel. Mr. Wilson debunked those efforts, saying that to try and convince people that the letters played no role in the actions of the four Council members was ridiculous. I talked to Michael Thompson and he admitted that he orchestrated the whole affair. And dont tell me illegal meetings werent held to make these decisions. You clearly knew what you were going to do tonight, just like you did last time. I have seen people shoot themselves in the foot politically before, but tonight is the first time I have seen anyone shoot themselves in the head.
Chairman Waldrep had some strong words for both Preston and county attorney Tom Martin, of the McNair Law Firm.
Mr. Preston, getting information from this administration is like pulling the proverbial hens teeth. An audit is proposed and you oppose it. We try to hire an accountant to serve the Council, and you oppose that. We try to get a report monthly so we can have some idea of the countys finances, and it took seven months just to get a firm date when we can expect that report. I write you asking for information, and you write back the most obfuscating evasive answers. You ask me why I dont sit down and talk with you. The reason I dont is because I want something in writing from you. This pending lawsuit over public information is the talk of the state.
He also expressed his opinion to Martin that This county doesnt have a county attorney, it has an administrators attorney. He hired you and he pays you, and sir, that changes the nature of the relationship completely. I would remind you that the Bible says no man can serve two masters.
After five hours, the meeting was adjourned.
As the financial status of The Town of Williamston continues to improve, the town is showing signs that things are definitely better than a year ago.
During their regular monthly meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved second reading on the 2007-2008 budget which includes three new police vehicles and decided to set aside money monthly for the purchase of a new packer truck. The Council is also considering an across the board raise for town employees.
During the meeting, Council approved an offer to sell the towns chipper/grinder to Joel Hammond for $35,000. A contract will be drawn up reflecting an agreement to trade the cost of the equipment in grinding services at the going rate.
Mayor Phillip Clardy read aloud a lengthy 4.5 page statement in response to criticism he received from Councilman Carthel Crout during a recent meeting.
The statement addresses personal conduct, criticism, issues, untruths, and FOI issues.
(See separate story this issue)
The mayor and councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. then traded comments over use of a town computer by a non-town employee.
The discussion led to a unanimous vote by council to secure the towns computers by password, to turn off the computers nightly and to have town employees trained on privacy issues.
Council then approved second reading on an ordinance addressing a sewer capacity agreement with Anderson County.
By a 3-2 vote, discussion of a billing issue with Big Creek Water Company was put off to be held in executive session later in the meeting.
Councilmen Middleton and Crout both opposed having the discussion in executive session.
Lee Cole was the only speaker during a public hearing on the 2007-2008 budget.
Cole urged council to limit the tax increase in the budget to 2.5 mills by taking out the council and mayor pay increase.
Cole said the salaries amount to approximately $12,000 which he said is approximately 1.5 mills.
Councilmen David Harvell and Middleton presented two amendments to the budget.
After Councilman Otis Scott made a motion to have an across the board salary increase, there was considerable discussion.
It was decided that Clardy will present two studies to council for consideration with a 3.2 percent and a 5 percent across the board salary increase for employees.
We still need to be careful how we are spending money, Scott said.
Council eventually approved second reading on the budget ordinance with the amendments.
Clardy reported that he is still obtaining price information about mounting commemorative brick to sell.
Council unanimously agreed to set up an interest bearing capital expenditure account to begin saving money for the purchase of a new packer truck
All proceeds from the towns sanitation fee for residents and businesses will be placed in the account monthly for six months. The funding will amount to approximately $21,000 per month.
Council decided not to change the town payroll from weekly to biweekly.
Both Middleton and Clardy stated that the benefits were not overwhelming and that the town employees did not want to be paid biweekly.
Based upon a recommendation by the town planning commission, Council unanimously approved a proposal to relocate Pelzer Avenue to intersect with the traffic light at Main St.
The project includes a tentative agreement for Town Square Center owner Jim Simpson to swap two small portions of land with the Major family to square the property lines and the street.
A grant is being sought to help pay expenses.
Councilman Middleton and Councilman Crout said that they supported the project if the town is reimbursed for any expenses that might be associated.
A representative of the Major family read a statement indicating the family wanted to support the town of Williamston and supported the proposal to true up the line to allow the road to be built.
The project, which was approved unanimously, will be presented to DOT.
Officials hope the plans will help entice a grocery store to locate in the town.
Council then approved a motion to make the sewer department head position a salaried position and another to move the dog catcher position to administration as a custodial position.
Council unanimously approved having the attorney draw up a job description for the new administrator position based on Cheraw and Easley job descriptions.
The base job description will be open to adjustments by Council.
Council also authorized Police Chief David Baker to proceed with the purchase of three police cruisers which are included in the 2007-2008 budget.
The vehicles are priced at $27,000 and will have additional equipment added, according to Baker. They will all be marked and will have new graphics. The vehicles will be purchased on a three year lease.
Council officially voted 3-2, with Clardy and Scott opposed, to cut off a cell phone described as the mayors phone.
According to Clardy, the number is the emergency contact number for the town for all state agencies and almost anyone else who may need to get in touch.
The phone, which has 21,000 minutes built up, will be cut off after 30 days allowing Clardy time to contact agencies about a number change.
After a brief executive session, Council returned and voted to stop payment to the security firm which recently installed cameras in the park.
Officials said there was a billing discrepancy and the security firm will not return calls.
Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy publicly responded to concerns about his performance as Mayor recently brought up by a councilman.
During the regular monthly meeting of Council Monday, Clardy read aloud a four and a half page statement addressing concerns made public during a recent meeting by Councilman Carthel Crout.
Responding to a statement made by Crout that he had received so many phone calls and emails concerning these town issues, especially of not being truthful, Clardy requested all electronic correspondence (emails) received by Crout as an acting member of the Williamston Town Council, regarding the concerns. Clardy made the request under the FOI Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
He then agreed with a statement made by Crout that Just because the mayor says something or is quoted in the newspaper does not make it the truth.
I totally agree, Clardy stated, In fact, anyone who says something or is quoted in the newspaper does not make it the truth, Mayor or Councilmember.
Clardy also disputed a statement about the hours he spent with the accountant in preparing the 2007-2008 budget.
Clardy presented 96 pages of email correspondence between him and the towns new CPA which he said were reviewed and when necessary reponded to. He stated that he had spent hours at arranged meetings with Ms. Owens and members of her staff in his office working on the budget.
Clardy also defended the first 2007-2008 budget presented to council, which Crout said was the 2006 budget.
Clardy stated he was waiting on the final results of the 2006 audit which provided the basis for the 2008 budget.
Clardy said that he was present for more than the 1.5 hours claimed by Crout, saying he was present for three full sessions with council and portions of two others.
He also said that his presence was as a facilitator between council and department heads as they input on the budget.
Your concern is unwarranted and the time calculation is grossly incorrect, Clardy said.
Clardy responded with specific instances that he said show members of council had indeed violated the States Freedom of Information laws.
Among them were the approval for hiring an additional worker for the street department. Clardy indicated Councilmembers signed paperwork with a notation As per vocal instructions via telephone.
There was no public action taken by council to authorize this hire, Clardy said. After Councilman Scott brought to my attention that the other signatures were in fact added, and the manner that they were added, I removed my signature from the document as Councilman Scott did also. Then, I instructed this personnel matter to be brought into a public meeting and voted on per the agenda, Clardy said.
He also brought up a document that was sent to the Appalachian Council of Governments (ACOG) in 2004 which contained signatures of a quorum of the council in which he said the legal counsel for the SC Press Association stated was in blatant violation of the FOI Act.
Other examples he presented included discussion of compensation for a particular position and an employee being informed that he had been placed on salaried compensation.
The mayor then questioned when the decision was made, where the meeting was held and where the minutes were?
Clardy also questioned responses made in a management letter for the 2006 draft audit, asking when were they agreed upon and if they were placed on the agenda for official public action.
Clardy then questioned when it was decided to have the mayors cell phone cut off. When, councilmen was this decided, where was the meeting and where are the minutes?
My point in these few examples, councilmen, is that if there are no polls, phone conversations or other chance meetings, where are these decisions being made official as they have been attempted to be carried out without public notice or public action of the council authorizing them?
Later during the council meeting, Councilmen Crout, Marion Middleton, Jr. and Mayor Clardy responded to some of the statements.
Council also took action on some of the items mentioned by Clardy which were on the agenda. (See separate story)
Williamston Town Council began their meeting with a heated discussion between Mayor Phillip Clardy and Councilmen Marion Middleton, Jr. and Carthel Crout.
Clardy first read aloud a lengthy 4.5 page statement responding to criticism he received from Councilman Carthel Crout during a recent meeting.
The statement addressed personal conduct by himself and council, criticism of his performance, alleged untruths, and FOI issues involving councilmembers. (See separate story this issue)
After Clardy read his statement, Councilman Crout said that his (Clardys) statements were not the truth and that it could be pointed out in the records.
He responded When you start doing your job, Ill leave you alone.
Councilman Middleton then brought up a letter sent by Clardy to the Police Chief concerning the handling of the time capsule.
The letter asked for an opinion from the chief as to whether the action by Middleton was appropriate.
Middleton asked for Baker to be relieved of the responsibility of looking into the issue and that another agency be contacted because, according to Middleton, he could be fired by the mayor if he didnt report what the mayor wanted to hear.
He does not need to be a part of this, Middleton said.
Clardy then asked for a 10 minute break while he produced a copy of the letter and other information.
Upon returning, Clardy presented councilmembers with 95 pages of information he said reflected his involvment in the budget process and alleged FOI violations by Council
Councilman Middleton then brought up the issue of a teenage boy being on a town computer while the mayor was working late in his office recently.
(Editors note: Prior to the meeting, Middleton told The Journal he had stopped by town hall to drop off paperwork for town employees for the following day and that he talked to the mayor that night.
What has been described by some as an overreaction by the mayor at about the same time, led to the police being called to investigate two females, who turned out to be Middletons wife and a friend, looking in windows at town hall. The women said they were looking for Middleton who was in the building at the time.)
Middleton said the computer history indicated that popular Facebook and MySpace websites had been accessed. He also questioned whether someone using the computer had access to other town records including payroll.
Middleton said the computer needs to be shut down and unauthorized people on a town computer open the town to what he said was a tremendous liability.
Town employee Bruce Peterson said town computers are left on overnight to do backups and that a log-in access is necessary to get to any town records that are on the computers. He said the record keeping modules are password protected.
Middleton said that hard copies of information are laying on the desk in plain view of anyone who may be in the office.
Clardy responded that there was not any liability in jeopardy.
Clardy then defended working late in his office.
I am here because of my schedule, he said. Im liable to be here all night.
Clardy stated that the computer allowed access no more than a public library would provide.
Councilman Otis Scott eventually interjected into the discussion asking the councilman and mayor to settle down and do what we were elected to do.
Clardy reassured that taxes and residents information are password protected and not on display.
Middleton then made a motion to secure the computer system and that it be shut off at the end of the day and that all employees be issued a password.
The motion was unanimously approved.
Council also unanimously approved another motion made by Middleton that town employees be given training in privacy laws.
Councilman Crout then responded that Clardy had mostly agreed with what he had said earlier and challenged Clardy to take any actions he thought were illegal to the proper authorities. I assure you I will, Clardy said.
By Stan Welch
The Piedmont Public Service Commission met Monday night.
Commissioner Bobby Stover reported that the district had experienced only minor sewer problems during the past month. Craig Lawless reported that Western Carolina Water and Sewer Authority had recently formed a committee to facilitate communications with its various clients. The committee is comprised of representatives from various special purpose districts, towns, and the two counties.
Stover informed the Commission that efforts were underway to identify problem areas along the Anderson County portion of the sewer system, so that the Commission will be ready to move on any grants that they obtain. Chairman Ed Poore commended that approach, adding that Commissions goal is to bring their lines up to a standard that would allow Metropolitan Sewer to take them over, thereby letting the District get out of the sewer business.
Commissioner Frankie Garrett reported that the new contracted mowers were on the job and doing a good job. He also reported that the flagpole at Fire Station Number two will either be straightened or replaced soon.
Commissioner Marsha Rogers asked that mulch be provided for areas of the playground that have not been mulched in two years. She also asked that the trailer where the mower is stored be repainted. She also raised the question of whether the grass along the road in front of the fire station can be cut. When we let the contract this time we left the roadway cutting out, but we need to get this part cut.
Chief Tracy Wallace presented the fire operations report for Commissioner Al McAbee who was unable to attend the rescheduled meeting Monday night. That report has been updated to include a year to date summary on the various calls answered by the department. The department has, so far this year, responded to 28 structure fires, 33 grass fires, 15 vehicle fires, 57 vehicle accidents, 186 medical calls, 8 electrical calls, 9 gas leaks/spills/hazardous material responses, 6 mutual aid responses, 25 service calls, 31 sewer calls,1 street light, and 2 rescue calls. The total of 401 calls averages out to approximately 57 calls per month.
Chairman Poore said that people need to be aware of how much the firemen and other responders do for the town and area. These folks work hard and they do a very important job.
Recreation Committee Chair Marsha Rogers presented a memo from 1998 which confirms that funds from the fire department budget can be used for recreation as well. Her concern is the condition of the little gym in the community building, which was damaged by water last year, resulting in the collapse of part of the floor. We need to get the little gym fixed. I know we are working on a grant, but we need to go ahead and fix this now. When the grant comes, we can reimburse the money, said Rogers.
Commissioner Garrett said that the damage had gotten worse since the estimates were given and the vote was taken to repair the gym. Ive been under there looking at it, and it will take more work than we thought. We have to have the money to do it. Its that simple.
Rogers reminded him that the commission has voted to approve the repairs. We need to go ahead and do this. Winter is coming and that gym is used a lot during those months. If we need to borrow the money until the grant comes, we should. What if we dont get the grant? The people of Piedmont pay taxes for recreational uses too. We still have to fix the gym.
Commissioner Stover said that as long as there is any need for equipment by the fire department, he would not vote to use those funds for recreational uses.
Chairman Poore reported that the District took in $108,716.44 last month, and spent $108,748.35, for a deficit for the month of $31.91. He also added that the District had ended last year with a surplus of approximately $26,000, but stressed that the auditors will be in in two weeks, and the numbers will be fine tuned at that time.
Following a brief executive session for a personnel matter, the meeting adjourned. The next meeting will be held on September 17, at 7 p.m.
By Stan Welch
A town meeting will be held next week in Piedmont to address citizen concerns about the crime rate in the area, as well as the response, or lack of it, by law enforcement.
Piedmont Public Service Commission member Frankie Garrett is spearheading the effort, and with good reason. He was one of the many victims of the crime spree that seems to be underway in the Piedmont area.
I had the window broken out of a vehicle and had my truck stolen, said Garrett. But weve also had tons of complaints by citizens. People are stealing copper all over the place. One church in the area had five air conditioning units stolen for the copper. Thieves went to every Duke Power pole on Hwy. 20 between Piedmont and Pelzer, and stripped the copper grounding cable off of them. Peoples homes are being broken into, and they are being robbed. Its just out of control and we need to get some help with it, said Garrett.
Help is apparently on the way in the form of Greenville County Councilwoman Judy Gilstrap and Anderson County Councilman Ron Wilson, whose districts include the banks of the Saluda as it passes through the area. Also on hand will be Greenville County Sheriff Steve Loftis and a representative of the Anderson County Sheriffs Office. Whether Sheriff David Crenshaw will be able to attend is uncertain at this time. State Rep. Eric Bedingfield will be the moderator of the three hour public meeting.
The meeting will be held on Thursday August 16, from 6 p.m. till 9 p.m. at the Piedmont Community Building.
Garrett is hoping for a big turnout. People who are concerned should come to talk with these folks. They are here to try and help, but they need to know what the problems are. So were hoping a lot of folks will show up. We sure need some help with this problem over here.
Citizens of the town of Piedmont and surrounding areas are welcome to attend.
Piedmont - A group of local men in Piedmont are making themselves available to offer advice to local residents. Be it a situation, problem, question or just general advice, the seven local men all in their 80s, offer a combined 579 years experience.
The men are retired from the armed forces, the work force and have been offering their services to anyone interested for five years.
They meet daily from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at a place they have named The Situation Shelter, which is located at 2 King Street in Piedmont.
Included are Tommy League, age 80, office manager , a US Navy veteran of WWII and retired textile worker. He has lived in Piedmont all his life.
William Walter Payne, 86, US Navy Veteran of WWII and present at the surrender of Japan. He is a retired textile worker and has lived in Piedmont all of his life.
Denver Dink Higgins, 83, a US Army Air Froce Veteran of WWII and retired textile worker who has lived in Piedmont for 73 years.
Also Jamie Dee Poole, 82, a US Navy veteran of WWII, retired textile worker and a lifelong resident of Piedmont.
William Fred Glenn, 79, US Army Veteran of the Korean War, and retired State Constable for Greenville County who has lived in Piedmont all of his life.
Charles Davis, 77, US Army Veteran of Korean war and retired Service Station owner. He has lived in Piedmont for 74 years.
Bobby Scott, 72, US Army Veteran of Korean war and retired Cabinet Shop owner. He has lived in Piedmont for 59 years.
A senior member of the group. Roy Allen, 91 passed on in 2006.
Their office is a carport that can be identified by a plaque reading Situation Shelter. The office is furnished in Early American that has been around about as long as they have.
League holds down a glider swing and keeps a bb gun handy to shoot squirrels that eat his tomatoes, and a radio to keep up with world events and a candy jar filled with roasted peanuts that he shares with the staff.
The other members have their own chair that is form fitted to their bodily after many years of use. Should you stop by for consultation, you are asked to BYOC, Bring Your Own Chair.
Should you visit the situation shelter, I can assure you that you will be a learned person when you depart. The subjects are unlimited because the men have been there and done that.
You may even get lucky and get a slice of Mrs. Leagues homemade cake. She is
These men are special. They have served and fought for our great country, have worked hard over their lifetime and now they are living the American Dream. Stop by and let them share their dreams with you. Your situation and problems will feel a lot smaller.
By Stan Welch
The national convention of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be held in Anderson County in the year 2010, a year that marks the Sesquicentennial observance of the start of the American Civil War.
Efforts by representatives of Anderson County, the Anderson Convention & Visitors Bureau and the recently chartered Manse Jolly Camp of the SCV were all instrumental in securing the approval of the delegates at the 2007 convention at Mobile, Alabama last month.
Ron Wilson, District Six County Council representative, and eleven year veteran of the national Board of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, also played a key role in bringing the convention to Anderson County. His knowledge of the organization and some of the issues that concerned it in choosing a convention site proved to be key.
I attend the Convention each year, and each year, I hear the same complaints. The venues are too expensive, and we price our mainstream membership out of being able to attend their own convention. So I knew that room rates had become an issue. Back in March, when our time and place committee reviewed the bids of the three different cities, Knoxville, Charleston, and Anderson, the committee was leaning towards Charleston. But I raised the issue of room rates and the committee asked the Charleston contingent to return home and work on that problem.
But Wilson had a problem of his own in trying to sway the committee. He and State Rep. Dan Cooper, along with others, had recently organized a new camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, located in Piedmont, and named after famous local son Manse Jolly. It was that camps name that Wilson submitted as the sponsoring camp for the convention.
I originally was going to submit the Jeff Davis Camp as the host camp. I was once a member of that camp, but I decided that since Manse Jolly was to be the host, I would go ahead and submit the bid under that name. Unfortunately, the camp was unchartered at that time, and the convention has never been awarded to an unchartered camp. So my decision was killing our chances.
Wilson returned to Anderson and with Coopers help, as well as that of others, the charter was secured in time. After that, when the Charleston folks came back with only minimal improvements in their rates, it was pretty smooth sailing. The Executive Committee voted 9-3 for Anderson, and the floor vote by the delegates was overwhelmingly in favor.
Cooper says the main thing is that it will show others considering Anderson as a convention location that the city can handle such a large event. This will really give us a chance to show what we can do, he said.
The convention drew approximately 700 delegates in Mobile, but Wilson says that number should nearly double in 2010. There are several reasons. For one, its a big political year, both within and outside of the SCV, so well see much greater attendance. Also, its the 150th anniversary of the start of the War Between the States, so we expect a bigger turnout. And the Convention Bureau and county folks put together a great presentation that promises a lot to see and do. People have been to Mobile several times in the last few years. People have grown a little tired of it. Anderson has a lot of new and different sights to offer.
Convention bureau director Glenn Brill agrees. We have a number of historic places the delegates can go, including John C. Calhouns home, several historic sites in Abbeville County, and a very good SCV museum in Greenville. And of course Anderson County offers its own charms and attractions.
Brill says the convention will almost certainly be the biggest convention Anderson County has ever hosted. We have already blocked in 800 hotel rooms, and more can be made available, he said. I think 1200 delegates is a reasonable number. We have just under 1500 rooms in Anderson county, so we can definitely accommodate this group.
The convention is scheduled for mid-July in 2010, but the actual dates are still being determined. The event runs for four days and nights. Thats a tremendous economic impact for the city and the county as well. Restaurants, hotels, retail shops, gas stations, a whole array of businesses will feel the effects of those visitors. Its just a winning situation all around.
Wilson says he is glad to see the convention come to Anderson. This will be a great boon for the city, and for the county. Mr. Preston and Mr. Brill did a great job. While the Manse Jolly Camp is the host camp, the Jeff Davis Camp, the Palmetto Sharpshooters, and the Ashley Camp have all pledged their cooperation and assistance. We are really glad to see this event coming to Anderson.
Anderson County Sheriffs Deputies investigated several thefts and assaults. Among incidents investigated:
July 31 J.J. Jacobs and M.D. Campbell responded to 303 Tina Marie Lane where Crystal Raines stated that Nicholas Chapman WM, 26, 57", 145 pounds, brn/blue, had threatened to hit her with a mop handle and to shoot her, although he displayed no weapon. She said he was already on a trespass notice for her property. A witness verified Raines account. Chapman denied being at Raines house and fled on foot when told he was under arrest. He ran into the side of the trailer and was apprehended. He was arrested on charges of simple assault, trespassing after notice, and resisting arrest.
August 2 J.D. Hill responded to Aarons Rentals at 113C Hwy. 20. An alarm had gone off and he discovered a broken glass in one side of the door. The manager arrived and told the officer that a 32 inch flat screen TV, a 37 inch wide screen HDTV, and a JVS five disc DVD changer were missing. Total value was $3400.
July 31 J.J. Jacobs received a report of grand larceny of a vehicle at 10903 Anderson Rd. Sonia Reynolds reported that she had left her 1999 Ford Escort at the Ingles supermarket because of mechanical trouble. When she returned, the vehicle was gone.
Aug. 1 D.W. Davis investigated a report of counterfeit money at the CVS Pharmacy.
Aug. 1 D.W. Davis responded to 1535 Circle Rd. where Philip Durham reported that someone had kicked in his door, ransacked his house and stolen electronics, jewelry, firearms, and other items valued at a total of $1935.
August 2 T.J. Burgess was dispatched to 119 Kirsch Dr. where Roberto Chavez reported the theft of his CD player from his car. It was valued at $189.
July 31 R.J. Payne was dispatched to 1916 Amity Rd. to assist the Anderson Police Department in ascertaining who had been making false 911 Calls to the central dispatch. A 17 year old female and a sibling who witnessed the calls being made were taken to the Anderson Police Department to give statements to officers. The cell phone was also confiscated. The report is incomplete and does not indicate whether any arrests were made.
July 31 R.J. Payne responded to 2045 Shady Lane where Douglas Owens reported the theft of his 1968 Ford Ranchero truck, valued at $7000.
August 1 K.D. Pigman was dispatched to 906 Whiten Rd. where Bonnie Saylors reported that her cousin had slapped her face. The responding officer noted no visible injuries on Saylors.
Anderson School Districts One-Five recently announced their policy for free and reduced meals for children served in schools under the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast program. Local school officials have adopted the following household size and income criteria for determining eligibility:
Income guidelines for free meals are as follows: Number in household, annual income, monthly income, weekly income:
For each additional family member add $4,524 annually, $377 monthly or $87 weekly.
Income guidelines for reduced price meals are as follows: household size, annual income, monthly income, weekly income:
7$57,517 $4,794 $1107
8$63,955 $5,330 $1,230
For each additional family member, add $6,438 annually.
Children from families whose income is at or below the levels shown may be eligible for free or reduced price meals.
For school officials to determine eligibility, the household must provide a food stamp or TANF case number certifying the household is currently eligible for either of the assistance programs and an adult household signature or names of all household members, the name and social security number of the adult household member signing the application form, monthly income by source for each household member and a signature of an adult household member certifying the information provided is correct.
Foster children may also be eligible for these benefits regardless of household income. If a household has foster children living with them and wish to apply for such meals for them, they may do so by completing a separate application form.
A complete copy of the policy is on file in each school and in the office of the District Superintendent if an elegibility ruling is questioned.
School District One parents wishing to make a formal appeal may make a request either orally or in writing to Anderson District One Superintendent, Dr. Wayne Fowler, P. O. Box 99, Williamston, S. C. 29697, for a hearing to appeal the decision. The hearing procedures are outlined in the policy.
If a household member becomes unemployed or if household size changes, the household should contact the school to file a new application. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for free or reduced price meals if the income falls at or below levels.
Anderson District One Schools will hold the following registration and orientation dates:
Concrete Elementary 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 will have Parents/Students 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 will hold orientation on Monday, August 20 from 5 -6 p.m. for K-4 through grade 2 and 6 - 7 p.m. will for grades 3 - 5
Palmetto Elementary will register new students, pay fees and receive student packets on Thursday, August 9 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Orientation and meet the teachers will be on Thursday, August 16 from 6 to 7 p.m.
Pelzer Elementary registration will be Thursday, August 16 from 5 to 5:30. Parents can pay school fees ($20 for 4K5th grades) and join the school PTO for $5 per family. 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 will hold orientation 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 will hold Back to School Night on Thursday, August 16th, from 3:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m. Parents should have received a Welcome Back letter stating the childs teacher assignment and other information.
West Pelzer Elementary will hold orientation and registration on 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 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 will allow parents to pay fees on Monday, Aug. 13. Students can pay fees and pick-up schedules August 20th from 12 until 6:30 to pay fees, complete documents, pick up schedules, and visit classrooms
Wren High Orientation for Juniors will be 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. 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. 9th graders will meet teachers and go over specific procedures from 6:30-8 p.m. A dance will be held for all rising freshmen in the Auxiliary Gym from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Following the tragic bridge collapse event that occurred in Minnesota last week, The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has issued the following information concerning the status of bridges in South Carolina.
SCDOT Secretary of Transportation-nominee J. B. Buck Limehouse, Jr, said, South Carolina has a critical need for funding in terms of maintaining the bridges and highways in our state, but we are doing everything possible to make sure that all bridges can be used safely. Safety is our highest priority, and no one in South Carolina will travel over a bridge this unsafe to use.
According to information provided by SCDOT, the agency maintains and inspects a total of 8,330 bridges in the state.
Of those, 1.033 are classified as Structurally Deficient. A bridge falls under this term when the condition of the bridge does not meet the standards of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The term does not imply that the bridge is unsafe or needs to have the load restricted.
776 bridges in the state are classified as Functionally Obsolete, meaning the bridge does not meet the FHWA codes for providing a certain level of service. An example is an older bridge that has lanes that are narrower than todays standards.
Substandard Bridges are structures that may be both structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. If a bridge falls into both classifications, only the structurally deficient criteria is counted.
There are 1,809 Substandard Bridges in South Carolina, according to SCDOT. This is the total number of structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges.
SCDOT engineers have placed 138 bridges in the category of Load Restricted, meaning vehicles surpassing the maximum weight allowed on a particular bridge are prohibited from using the bridge.
There are currently 10 bridges in the state highway system that have been closed to all traffic.
The statement says that SCDOT conducts a regular schedule of inspections on all bridges in the state highway system as required by the FHWA for all states. The codes have been in effect since the 1970s.
The code calls for all non-load restricted bridges to be inspected every two years and all load-restricted bridges to be inspected every year.
Bridges with underwater pilings are supposed to be inspected every five years according to the FHWA codes, however SCDOTs policy is to examine these bridges every four years.
According to the statement, SCDOT does more that 6,000 inspections of state-owned structures each year and approximately 65 underwater inspections each year.
The current financial need for SCDOT to replace the current list of Structurally Deficients and Functionally Obsolete bridges over a period of 20 years is approximately $2.9 billion.
By Stan Welch
For almost twenty five years, I have covered small town and county government and politics in the two Carolinas. I have always heard it said that nothing is more real than local politics. Except in Anderson County, where nothing is more surreal than local politics.
Any doubts about that were erased once and for all Tuesday night, as four members of the County Council decided that showing one half of their behinds two weeks earlier simply wasnt sufficient. They had to show the other half.
Two weeks earlier, Council members Thompson, Greer, McAbee, and Floyd had decided that they would swear each other in as a posse and ride out to punish Cindy Wilson, and her twenty five thousand constituents, for her perceived role in some nasty letters that got mailed to various council members. The fact that SLED had already looked into all this, and that the Solicitor had decided there was no reason to pursue criminal charges, made no difference to this little band of vigilantes.
So they denied Ms. Wilson access to her districts recreation funds, by voting against all but one of her appropriations requests. Even vigilantes dont vote no on funds for a senior citizen center. Not surprisingly, a lot of people were deeply angered by those actions, and a fair number of them reside outside Wilsons district. The four members were ripped in editorials and by other members of Council and on talk radio. They were called fools and usurpers and all sorts of things, most of which could be proven by their own actions.
But the many cuts and scratches they suffered began to itch and burn and to sting, until soon, all four were whining like little children. Mommy, Billy threw something at me! You know, the kind of political discourse that makes you tell out of town visitors, I live here, but Im not from here.
So two weeks later, clearly smarting from the slings and arrows of outrageous behavior, the posse arranged an ambush for four mayors from District Seven who had the nerve to come before them and ask why their citizens were being punished as part of a childish political tussle. The mayors spoke well and strongly, all the time thinking that their presence on behalf of their people would be respected. They are good people, but they are not wise in the ways of the vigilante; and soon, they saw that they were to be used as an excuse for a senseless attack on their Council representative.
The vigilante known as Slow Talking Jones had prepared a rebuttal, a defense of him and his posse members, a defense that involved his speaking the nastiest two word phrase I have ever heard in a public meeting. So bad was it that his rebuttal, which was prepared and already loaded into the computer for display, began with a disclaimer for everyone under eighteen or offended by vulgar language to leave the room. Several did. If the disclaimer had been a stupidity alert, the room would have emptied.
The rebuttal consisted mainly of him showing envelopes that supposedly contained these foul letters. He also showed the letter that asked him if he had ever experienced the two word phrase personally. He found time to cast aspersions on Ms. Wilson solely on the evidence that she did not receive these nasty letters, letters which she has repeatedly denounced. Oh yeah, he also managed to invoke the patriot act and to label the Anderson County Taxpayers Association as terrorists whose constant attacks on the county administration had created the atmosphere that led to these letters being sent. Kind of like seagulls create the atmosphere that makes the Bermuda Triangle so deadly, you know?
The rebuttal was so offensive in so many ways that its difficult to describe it. But at the end of it all, what it amounted to was a little crybaby whining because somebody played too rough. It was sad, really.
Only a political naïf or an easily led cats paw could have considered that letter threatening.
The sexual act mentioned was referred to in the context of crooked politicians being arrested and imprisoned, where they could expect to experience this particular act. At no time did the letter writer threaten to perform the act himself. In the words of former chief deputy Tim Busha, salacious, yes. Threatening? Only if youre already running scared.
But it got worse. The four man posse, including Howdy Doody Deputy, Babaloo the chubby sidekick, and Miss Snitty, again hijacked Ms. Wilsons funds, this time by distributing them against her will. Oh, they spent the money in her district, but the entire episode was intended to show her who was boss.
This is where it gets surreal, in case it hasnt already.
She isnt the boss. She understands that. Neither are they. They dont understand that.
The people who provide those funds are the boss. They understand that, too, And if the posse thinks they gained any ground by their offensive and calculated efforts to humiliate and denigrate Ms. Wilson, they need an award winning financial analyst to refigure their numbers.
Perhaps one of the weirdest moments came when Miss Snitty told the crowd later in the evening that her people were happy with her performance because they kept electing her.
Guess who elses constituents keep electing her? And guess which four mayors will be riding in her posse next year? They could have come up with a better re-election strategy for Ms. Wilson, but they would have had to really work at it.
Seems to me you can lead a horses patoot to water but you cant make him drink.
A 37-year old Belton man was killed and a Piedmont man was injured Monday evening in a two vehicle accident on Fork Shoals Road. According to Greenville County Coroner Linda Holbrook, Michael Troy Harris was killed after the car he was driving was struck broadside while he was apparently attempting a u-turn. A passenger in the car, Tony Monroe of Piedmont, was transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital. The driver of the other vehicle, Bianca Maddina-Aquino, of Greenville and her 4-year-old son was not injured, officials said.