News Archive

Week of Aug. 20, 2003

Voters decide to leave form of government as is
Spring Water Festival offers special attractions
Christopher receives Order of the Palmetto
School starts next week in Greenville County
Piedmont Board decides against property purchase
Tougher DUI law now in effect
County hears EMS concerns

Voters decide to leave form of government as is

Less than half of Williamston’s 2024  registered voters came out Tuesday to help decide that the town’s form of government should be left as it is.

A total of 819 ballots were cast. When the votes were tallied, unofficial results showed 513 of the town’s registered voters said no to changing the form of government,  303 said yes.

Unofficial results for the Mill precinct showed 216 no votes to 69 yes. Williamston Town precinct had 292 no votes to 225 yes votes.

Absentee ballots had 9 for changing the government and  5 against the proposal.

According to poll manager Jerry Davis, there was one challenged ballot, one void ballot in the Town precinct. There was also one void ballot in the Mill precinct according to poll manager Jack Dalton.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said he took the vote as a sign of confidence from the town’s citizens.

“This is a vote of confidence from the people,” he said,  “and not just a vote to maintain the government.”

“More important than today’s results, Council and I were elected to serve in the best interest of the town,” Clardy said.

“I’ve tried to make the best decisions for the town, and unfortunately, some have brought controversy.”

Clardy said he thought it was interesting that the number of yes votes was less than the number of names on the petition to bring the question to a referendum vote.

“The forum was a turning point,” he said. “It shows that when information is correctly presented, it can help people make a decision.”

“I appreciate Mr. Suber’s efforts to bring interest and participation to local government,” the Mayor said.

He also said that he and council have a renewed consensus to work together for the best interest of Williamston’s citizens.

“I look forward to working for all of the town’s people,” Clardy said.

After the ballots were counted and results announced, Councilman Greg Cole said, “The people have spoken. We’ve got to work together to move the town forward.”

Cole said he thought the councilmen and mayor could work together on the issues facing the town.

“I think the people expect us to work together,” he said.

Cole said one of the biggest issues facing the town is the budget.

“We need to work to keep our budget in line and to make it the rest of the year,” Cole said.

A total of 819 of the town’s 2024 registered voters came to the polls to help decide the issue.

There are 1,299 Williamston residents registered to vote in the Town precinct, which voted at Palmetto Middle School Auditorium.

There are 711 registered voters in the Mill precinct and 14 registered voters in the Cedar Grove precinct.

The fourteen Cedar Grove voters cast their ballot at the Mill precinct at the Williamston National Guard Armory.

Spring Water Festival offers special attractions

Several special activities will take place at the Spring Water Festival this Saturday.

The Family Readiness Group of Company C, 151 Signal Battalion will conduct a drawing at the festival.

Drawings for prizes donated by area restaurants and businesses will be held throughout the day.

Proceeds will benefit families experiencing financial difficulties while soldiers are deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as support family activities during this difficult time.

A minimum donation of $1 per ticket is requested. Advance tickets are available at State Farm Insurance in Williamston or by calling Kristina Behringer at (864) 221-6626. Tickets will also be available at the festival.

Williamston EMS will offer information on the Guardian Angel Program at their booth in the park.

The program is designed to provide vital information needed by emergency personnel in case of a medical emergency.

The program consists of a medical history and a personal information sheet for each household member. This information is kept in a vial that should be placed on the top shelf of the door of the refrigerator in each home.

A sticker is placed on the front door of each home to identify the residents as participants in the Guardian Angel Program to notify emergency personnel that critical information is available.

The Guardian Angel Program is sponsored by Williamston EMS, AnMed Health, The Journal and the Town of Williamston.

The Williamston Disability Committee will also have an informational booth at the festival. Anyone interested in being involved with making the town more “user-friendly” for persons with all types of disabilities is invited to stop by for information.

Representatives of the Anderson Chapter of the S. C. Handicapped Society will also be present. The organization will also be collecting stuffed animals coloring books and crayons for the Williamston Rescue Squad and the Victim’s Advocate Program.

The Anderson City Technical Rescue Team will conduct a mock air rescue operation at approximately 12 noon on the day of the festival.

The helicopter rescue will involve removing an (injured)  person from the roof of the old water plant located just behind the Williamston Fire Dept.

Following the mock rescue, the helicopter rescue team will land behind the old water plant where they will be available for inspection and to answer questions, according to Williamston Fire Chief Steve Ellison, who is helping coordinate the event.

Members of the Greater Williamston Business Association (GWBA) will be holding drawings throughout festival day for a number of prizes including a John Deere lawn tractor.

A variety of other prizes will be given away every half hour, officials said, with large prize drawings on the hour. The grand prize drawing will be held at 3 p.m.

Festival visitors can register for the drawings in advance at GWBA member locations or all day during the festival. You do not have to be present to win.

The organization is asking for a $1 donation which will be used to help with downtown and Christmas Park lighting during the holiday season.

The Williamston Fire Department will have Williamston’s antique fire truck available for visitors to ride through town on festival day.

The Williamston Fire Department will be offering rides for $1, with proceeds going to continue restoration and upkeep on the vehicle.

New this year will be a petting zoo featuring a variety of exotic animals, according to Jaime Carter, chairperson.

Eudora Farms of Salley, S. C.  will offer an interactive, hands on exotic animal petting zoo featuring 20 to 25 rare and exotic animals from around the world.

Camel rides by Eudora Farms will offer a once in a lifetime experience, organizers said.

For complete information on all of the special activities and entertainment at the 22nd Annual Spring Water Festival, see the special tabloid progam in this week’s Journal.

Christopher receives Order of the Palmetto

Anderson School District One Superintendent Dr. W.R. Christopher was presented the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian award during a special presentation recently.

Christopher was presented the award during the school opening celebration for District One’s teachers and staff. 

When he was asked to wait as he approached the podium, he knew something unexpected was occurring. In the audience were some of his children, grandchildren, and long time friends.

Summoning his wife of 42 years to the stage to stand by his side and with quotes from letters of support and a letter from Governor Mark Sanford, Dr. Christopher was presented with the award. 

Before reading the letter from the Governor, the gathering of 600 teachers, administrators, trustees, and other invited guests gave the superintendent a standing ovation. 

Dr. Christopher is entering his 40th year as an educator in South Carolina public schools, the past 15 spent as superintendent of Anderson School District One. 

Governor Sanford cited Dr. Christopher’s “dedication and servant leadership to the citizens of South Carolina” in his letter of commendation. 

In his remarks following the presentation, Christopher thanked his wife, family, friends, trustees, and the Governor for their support and the award. 

He gave credit for his achievements to God and the teachers and administrators he has worked with calling them “those who make education happen.”

School starts next week in Greenville County

School for all Greenville County students except 4K begins Monday August 25 with a Labor Day holiday scheduled on September 1.

Elementary school students may buy lunch for $1.45 daily or purchase weekly tickets for $7.25. The cost for middle and high school students is $1.50 daily or $7.50 weekly. Students may pay 75 cents daily for breakfast or purchase weekly tickets for $3.75. Parents should fill out appropriate forms on the first day of school if they think their child qualifies for free or reduced price meals.

Students at Ellen Woodside Elementary may meet their teachers on August 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. An Open House is scheduled for September 8 at 6 p.m.

Fork Shoals School is having a Back to School Night August 22 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Students and parents may meet the teachers and enjoy BBQ.

Sue Cleveland Elementary is having a Meet Your Teacher Evening August 21 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Woodmont Middle School will have a Back to School Drop-in on August 21 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Students may pick up schedules, meet teachers, tour the school, sign up for clubs and enjoy a strings concert.

Woodmont High School has an Open House scheduled for September 22.

Piedmont Board decides against property purchase

In an apparent reversal of a previous decision and after a heated discussion, the Board of Commissioners of the Piedmont Public Service District decided not to purchase a piece of property adjacent to the ball park in its meeting Monday night.

Since the last meeting of the board in June, Chairperson Marsha Rogers reported that property belonging to Danny Gambrell adjacent to Pack Park had become available for $38,000. After consultation, board members had voted to place a $500 binder on the property.

According to Rogers, the board could use $14,000 from a recreation and parks grant as well as a $5,000 excess from last year’s budget to pay for part of the property and finance the remainder. Additional costs would involve approximately $2,500 for removing a house now located on the property as well as costs involved in preparing and paving the property for additional parking for the park.

Commissioner Rudy Rhodes questioned whether the home contained asbestos and the cost of handling the hazardous material. Concerns also arose as to where the money would come from for the balance of the project and the necessity for additional parking as well as whether Greenville County residents would benefit from the purchase.

Insisting on a decision on the first reading of the proposal, Rogers reminded the board that the community building and the ball park are available to everyone in the district saying that some residents “put that river in there too much.”

Commissioner Al McAbee made a motion to purchase the property saying that the objections could be handled in second and third readings. Receiving no second from other members, McAbee’s motion died from lack of support.

Obviously upset by the board’s decision not to purchase the property, Rogers reminded the group, “We are here to represent the whole district – not 10 or 15 people who gripe about everything we do.”

In other business, Chief Administrator Butch Nichols reported that a major line in the sewer was cleaned out and that a backup occurred in a house the next day. Nichols emphasized that he has “no manpower or equipment to do sewer work.”

“When we receive a sewer call, there is nothing we can do but place a telephone call,” Nichols explained. “We are at the mercy of the responders,” he added.

Nichols also suggested that the best thing residents can do is place a flow valve on their homes to avoid backups.

Commissioner Fred Glenn proposed that the board “find out what we need,” pursue grants and take action on the sewer issue. McAbee suggested visiting other sewer operations to collect information.

Rhodes said that citizens had mentioned broken sidewalks on Main Street in Greenville County and asked about the responsibility of maintenance for the sidewalks. Rogers explained that the property owners and not the board are responsible for maintenance and suggested that reviewing plats would clarify any confusion about ownership.

Rogers reported that Lucinda Quick of Strong Communities was working on more use of the community building. She added that Quick had applied for a national grant for $50,000 for an after-school program for the area. Rogers also added that the board will get bids on taking down three dead trees in the park.

McAbee reported 52 responses last month which included: 5 structural fires, 11 vehicle accidents, 27 medical runs, 3 electrical/sewer calls, and 5 street light problems.

The board scheduled the next meeting for September 15 and adjourned. 

After the meeting adjourned, a citizen inquired about the procedures in the meeting. Rogers explained that she had made the decision to conduct the meetings without unscheduled citizen input due to disruptions that had developed in past meetings. She explained that citizens may address the board with written notice of specific topics given at least one week in advance so that the board could be prepared to answer any questions that could arise

Tougher DUI law now in effect

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety announces that motorists in South Carolina who choose to drink and drive now face a lowered blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level and increased fines as a result of legislation (H. 3231, A. 61 of 2003). The new DUI law took effect August 19.

Under the new legislation, the BAC level for an inference of being under the influence drops from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent for operation of a motor vehicle, as well as for operation of watercraft or use of a firearm. Under the new law, if motorists have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, it will be inferred that they were driving under the influence.

As of April 30, 2003, 39 other states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had already enacted 0.08 BAC legislation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Motorists should bear in mind that the actual cost of DUI is far higher than the base line fine,” said Boykin Rose, DPS Director. “Our hope is that the additional fines, coupled with the fact that a person can now be considered legally intoxicated after drinking less, will help reduce the number of people who choose to drink and drive.”

The cost of drinking and driving also increases under the new law. Additional assessments and surcharges increase the fines dramatically. For a first offense DUI conviction, the fine, including assessments, is $992. The maximum $5,100 fine for a second offense increases to $10,744.50 and the maximum $6,300 fine for a third offense increases to $13,234.50. The maximum Felony DUI fines increase from $10,100 (great bodily injury) to $21,119.50 and from $25,100 (death) to $52,244.50. The new law also carries an additional penalty for South Carolina residents convicted of second offense DUI: suspension of the registration and license plate for every vehicle they own for 30 days.

A DUI conviction can also result in jail time and driver’s license suspension. First time offenders face imprisonment from two to 30 days and suspension of their driver’s license for six months. According to the South Carolina Insurance News Service, people convicted of DUI can also expect to see a significant increase in automobile liability insurance costs, possibly by as much as 70 percent or more. Some companies might even cancel insurance coverage and a DUI offender could face difficulty obtaining insurance coverage from another company.

In 2001 South Carolina’s mileage death rate (number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel) was the third highest in the nation, fifty percent above the national average. The alcohol-related traffic death rate in South Carolina was the worst in the nation, though, at more than twice the national average.

“It’s important for people to remember that impairment actually starts with the first drink,” said Max Young, DPS Office of Highway Safety Director. “Our recommendation from a highway safety standpoint is to steer clear of getting behind the wheel if you have been drinking. Intoxication levels can vary from person-to-person and day-to-day.”

County hears EMS concerns

Anderson County Council heard a presentation on EMS concerns and issues led by Council member Cindy Wilson at their regular meeting Tuesday night.

Wilson reported on issues discussed at an EMS meeting of employees, chiefs, and board members held in Pelzer on August 5. Issues discussed included: the QRV(Quick Response Vehicle) concept, a more complete training program which would be provided by the county, employee benefits including health insurance and retirement, and a more clearly defined discipline and appeal process for procedure violations and infractions.

EMS Commission Chairman Kent Berg emphasized the commission’s support for a QRV service to reach areas where an ambulance is not feasible. Berg added that “most counties in the upstate area operate QRV vehicles.”

Wilson also proposed an ordinance pertaining to reimbursement of county personnel and county council members for expenses, particularly phone calls, incurred on behalf of the county. Wilson’s ordinance was tabled in favor of a more comprehensive ordinance proposed by Chairman Bill Dees. The council supported the ordinance proposed by Dees with an amendment added by Council member Larry Greer insuring the confidentiality of any issue dealing with pending economic development projects.

At the request of Wilson, the council unanimously supported $300 for Pelzer recreation activities and $2,040 for a parking lot extension at the Cheddar Fire Department.

During the time for citizen comments, James McVay representing a group from Airy Springs Road in the Wren community requested time for a 15-minute presentation at the next council meeting on “traffic calming devices” in the residential area.

 

 

 

 

 

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