News Archive

(3406) Week of Aug 23, 2006

Candidates file for political offices
Handmade crafts, unique skills to highlight festival
Tempers rise over town spending, tax increase
Pelzer residents concerned with crime
West Pelzer has personnel issues
ACT results rank District One sixth
District One students bring in scholarships
County wide initiative to help plan for future
Project funding comes from elected officials, lobbyists
Jean committed as District 7 candidate
Low clearance causes loss of load
Seems to Me . . .Until the next election . . .

Bonus story
Top pro riders coming to Greenville

 

Candidates file for political offices

The following individuals have filed as candidates for local political offices:

Big Creek Watershed - Edward H. Pascoe, 312 Palmetto Rd., Pelzer. 

Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners - Ed Poore, 111 Blakely Rd., Piedmont, Rudy Rhodes, 89 Parker Rd., Piedmont, Al C. McAbee, Jr. 20 Piedmont Hwy., Piedmont and Bobby Stover, 122 Dill Dr., Piedmont have filed. There are 3 seats open. The top three vote getters of the four candidates will be elected to fill the three open seats up for election.

Board of Education District 1, Randy Price of Pendleton; District 5 Mike Brock of Honea Path and District 6 Mike Gray of Starr.

Candidates for School Trustree District 1 Area 1 Johnny Sosebee, Jr. of Easley, 124 Lantern Ridge Dr., Easley; Wendy Tucker, 230 Grace Lane, Piedmont and Phil Landreth, 124 Country Lane, Easley.

School Trustee District 1 Area 4 Fred G. Alexander, 432 Old River Rd., Pelzer and Mary Ann Woodson, 70 Main St., West Pelzer.

School Trustee District 1 Area 5 - C. Dale Martin, 21 Austin St., Williamston and J. Doug Atkins, 118 Shorebrook Dr., Williamston.

School Trustee District 1 Area 7 Nancy Owen Upton, 6416 Hwy. 81 N. Piedmont and Rick Freemantle, 1711 Beaverdam Rd., Williamston.

Williamston Town Council - Ward 1 - Greg Cole, 104 Lakeview Dr., Willie Wright. Ward 2 - Marion Middleton Jr., 321 South Hamilton St., Williamston.

Handmade crafts, unique skills to highlight festival

Among the special events planned for the 25th Anniversary of Williamston’s Spring Water Festival will be demonstrations by a skilled Shaker broom maker and a skilled blacksmith.

Brooms are a humble instrument of the household, used for many duties in addition to sweeping. It has been mostly replaced by the vacuum cleaner within the house or the leaf blower outside. Even though it has lost its number one place, most houses have at least one.

Randy, SaraLyn, and Maggie King of Pelzer will demonstrate the age old craft of making Shaker brooms at the 2006 Spring Water Festival. 

According to Randy King, there is more folklore than documented fact about brooms in this country. Brooms on the coastal plantations of South Carolina in the 1600s were made from broomcorn. Seeds were brought from Africa and found to grow well anywhere corn would grow. Broomcorn is not corn nor is it broom sedge (broom straw that grows in local fields). It is a member of the sorghum family with grain sorghum, molasses cane, and other livestock feed, King said.

If you have been around for awhile, you may remember gathering bundles of broom straw and binding it with a rope of broom straw to sweep the yard or floor. There was also the brush broom made from dogwood limbs and tied with strips of cloth. Brush brooms were used to sweep the yard and to prevent grass from growing in the yard; in past years, there were no lawn mowers other than the chickens.

Until the end of World War II thousands of acres of broomcorn was grown in the Midwest. Huge amounts of labor were needed to harvest and sort the crop. As the boll weevil moved north broomcorn moved south to Mexico.

Brooms were stitched to be round. We would think of the “witch’s” broom or more recently as used in the Harry Potter movies. By the early 1700s the Shakers stitched the brooms flat rather than round. There is the same amount of straw in a round broom as in a flat broom but you can cover three times the area with each sweep of the broom.

The Kings learned the craft of broom making from a broom squire who had worked at the restored Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. 

“Our brooms are all hand made on turn of the century equipment exactly as the Shakers made them. The highest quality broomcorn is used and hemp cord is used to stitch each broom,” King said.

 A local blacksmith hand forges the needles used by the Kings.

King offers this tip for Journal readers: remember to always hang the broom from the loop in the handle. 

Brooms are most often found standing in the corner, usually incorrectly, on the straw rather than with the handle on the floor or hung by a loop at the end of the handle, he said.

Another special demonstration will be presented by Doyle Harper, a retired engineer who has been a hobby blacksmith for more than 20 years.

He has studied blacksmithing under the architectural blacksmith Francis Whitaker of Colorado, and took classes under various smiths including the master blacksmith at Colonial Williamsburg. He has appeared at several National, State and local parks including Cowpens, Ninety Six and Kings Mountain, demonstrating advanced techniques at blacksmith artist meetings.

Harper will demonstrate the craft of blacksmithing at the festival. His equipment is late nineteenth or early twentieth century forge, anvil and vise. The demonstrations are sure to interest festival goers.

Demonstrations usually involve turning a piece of iron into a useful article within 20 minutes or less. Typical items made are hooks, forks, candlesticks and flint strikers, suggestions from the audience sometimes lead to other items, Harper said.

The Spring Water Festival will feature more than 40 crafters offering a variety of quality handmade items.

Other special acitivites are planned. The Williamston Springwater Committee will hold an opening ceremony for the 2006 Spring Water Festival on the amphitheater stage at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 26. The person credited with coming up with the idea to hold a festival in Williamston to help fund the Christmas Park, Mertie Kelly, will be recognized.

The program will include Pastor Larry Baldwin, local dignitaries, presentation of colors by the Palmetto High AFJROTC, Confederate reenactors, and the Palmetto High School band.

The Greater Williamston Business Association is offering their Collectors Christmas Ornaments. The 2006 ornament features Ms. Leona Parker, a local educator. They will also have available a reissue of the popular Dr. Dwight H. Smith ornament that was made available in 2005 and a memorial issue in purple and white.

The Williamston Fire Department is sponsoring a chance to win an ATV four wheeler. $1 tickets are available from firefighters or at ERS Video & Appliance. The ATV is supplied by City Scooterz and can be seen at the festival.

The Anderson County Hot Air Balloon will be offering tethered rides from 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. weather permitting.

Teams participating in the Rai$ing Race will be performing some unknown task at the festival sometime in the afternoon (Look for them). For more information, check the website at www.raisingrace.org or www.lesliemazzarafund.com.

Santa will be in the Scout Hut. A photographer will be available to make photos with proceeds going to the scout hut renovation.

The National Guard will have a Hummer on display. A variety of businesses and other organizations are also expected to have displays at the festival.

The 2006 festival will feature a variety of entertainment with one of the largest lineups in gospel and bluegrass music and all are local performers. There will be four different stages with one dedicated to children.

For more information, check out the special 25th Anniversary Program Tabloid in this issue of The Journal.

Tempers rise over town spending, tax increase

By Stan Welch

In a hybrid meeting that was almost as confusing as it was lively, Mayor Phillip Clardy and Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. clashed openly and loudly over several financial issues. Several irate citizens who spoke added to the volatility of the meeting; which began at 5:30 as a scheduled budget work session, and was followed at 6:30 by a special called meeting to allow for the second reading of the town’s election ordinance, and to establish a reserve fund in the 2007 budget.

That work session, immediately after convening, went into what was described as a very brief executive session. The agenda described the reason for the executive session as a discussion of “personnel issues as they relate to the 2007 budget”, a reason normally not allowed by the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act. Both Mayor Clardy and ACOG representative Joe Newton insisted that the issue was one of overtime, and involved specific employees, thereby making it permissible.

Regardless of the acceptability of the session, it extended to an hour and ten minutes, consuming the time allotted for the work session. The presence of approximately forty citizens, who apparently had attended thinking that the session was to be a public hearing on the 2007 budget, complicated the events to follow.

To accommodate the audience, Council decided to adjourn the work session and convene the special called meeting, which is a meeting intended to deal with only the items on the agenda, and nothing else. Whether a formal vote to adjourn one meeting and convene the other ever took place is unclear.

While the council was in executive session, three members of the audience, apparently believing that a public hearing was to take place, signed up to speak. Council chose to allow them to speak, even though none addressed the specific topics of the special called meeting.

Carthel Crout asked the mayor four questions concerning the Town’s debts and his role in the incurring of those debts. He asked that the Mayor respond in writing.

Tim Cox spoke about several fees that were increased or initiated earlier this year to increase revenues for the Town. “You’re talking about hiring new people now. That tells me you don’t really know how much it costs to run the town, so you just add a fee when you need it.”

Jan Dawkins asked that the agenda be amended to allow for more public comment, a request that Council approved, with the Mayor and Councilman Otis Scott opposing. Dawkins then asked when the audit would be available for public review. She also repeated an earlier demand that the Town hire a professional administrator. She also asked if anyone besides Councilman Scott was signing off on the Town’s invoices.

“It seems to me, Mayor, that the Council still has little control over you. There should be at least two people to sign off on these invoices, or at least have copies of the checks and invoices provided.”

Clardy countered with a proposal that all members of the Council be required to sign the invoices. The proposal served as the spark for an explosion by Councilman Middleton, Jr. He scolded the Mayor for a recent decision to hire outside, unlicensed contractors to pressure wash Town Hall at a cost of  $1600. The funds came from $8000 in tourism funds recently obtained by Senator Billy O’Dell.

Middleton was also upset to find that franchise fees had gone uncollected. They apparently went uncollected because the ordinance establishing them was lost. “When were you going to tell us about that? If Williamston was a ship, Mayor, you wouldn’t care if it sank or sailed, as long as you have your hands on the wheel and your picture in the paper.”

Middleton continued to excoriate the Mayor, telling the audience, “I can make a strong argument for this tax increase. I can tell you why we need it, why we should have done it before now. In fact, I can tell you everything about it except that we will handle it properly if it passes, because we have a Mayor who still doesn’t have a clue what’s going on.”

Middleton, Jr. apologized to the audience, saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to embarrass the Town. But I will not vote for this tax increase under these circumstances.”

Dawkins, still at the podium, said,  “The Mayor is just laughing at us. He’s just on a power trip.” She again demanded his resignation, adding, “I call on the Council to step up to the plate and create the position of city administrator.”

Following further discussion, Council finally voted unanimously to require all five members to sign all invoices before they are paid, changing Mayor Clardy’s motion to allow approval to be given after payment. The department head will also sign the invoice, and the number of the account from which payment will be drawn will also appear on the invoice.

Council then gave second reading approval to an ordinance empowering the Town to hold elections. A resolution to establish a reserve fund for the 2007 budget led to several other exchanges between Council and Mayor, with the issue of the pressure washing arising again.

Councilman Greg Cole said that bids should have been sought for the project, with Middleton agreeing. The Mayor then asked Middleton, Jr. specifically, “When you did renovations on this building when your father was Mayor, did you submit a bid?”

Middleton Jr., whose father was convicted as a result of his mismanagement of Town funds, retorted, “Oh, good, Phillip. Let’s discuss the past, since that’s where we’ve been headed for the last seven years.”

Middleton, Jr. continued, saying, “I admit it. I was on the grassy knoll with my father in 1963,” a reference to persistent conspiracy theories about the death of President Kennedy. Eventually a resolution to establish a restricted reserve fund in the 2007 budget was also unanimously approved, with the provisions that the fund be a separate account, requiring a majority vote to spend or transfer money from the fund.

Newton stated that the Town really needs a fund of $600,000 to be prepared for major expenses or repairs. It also allows the Town to borrow from itself when revenues are low, instead of habitually using a tax anticipation note to make ends meet.

The Council then apparently returned to the budget work session, where Newton explained that the figures in the latest draft of the new budget include the proposed 20% tax increase. “I thought we needed to see how those numbers would look. The increased property tax will allow us to decrease the sanitation fees by approximately 25%. I would recommend a ten dollar residential fee and a twenty-five dollar commercial fee, instead of the current $14 and $30 rates.”

Newton also stated that the unused salary being freed up in the budget by the retirement of sanitation department head “Doc” Roberts could be used to hire one worker immediately, and another in November, bringing the department back to a strength of five.

Pelzer residents concerned with crime

By Stan Welch

Concerned residents from the mill village area of Pelzer gathered Tuesday night to air concerns about what they see as a growing crime problem. Inspector Bill Graham, of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, was on hand to offer advice on organizing a neighborhood crime watch.

Graham placed the blame for the increased crime rates throughout the county squarely on the recent surge in the manufacture and use of methamphetamine, or meth. “This is the most insidious drug I’ve ever seen in my forty-one year law enforcement career,” he said. Saying that Sheriff David Crenshaw has doubled the number of deputies on the road in order to combat the rising crime rates, Graham nevertheless conceded that there are usually 2-4 deputies in the Pelzer district, depending on the time of day. That district includes the Easley area, Powdersville, Williamston, Piedmont, and Pelzer.

Graham also explained that officers can’t make arrests without witnessing an incident, or having someone swear out a warrant or complaint. “If you do that, you need to understand that you may be called on to testify in court,” said Graham.

He went on to tell the audience that they need to organize by streets and appoint block captains to serve as liaisons with the Sheriff’s department. “Document what you see and hear, and when you see it. Pinpoint the locations of suspected meth labs. You can’t miss that smell. It smells just like cat pee,” said Graham. “Then have your block captain report those problems to the appropriate division, such as narcotics for drug offenses.”

Residents for their part complained of speeding, street racing, drug activity, vandalism, underage drinking and slow responses by ACSO deputies when called. Several referred to the death of a 20 year old local man on July 5, in a motorcycle accident. According to the residents, several of them had called the police complaining about high speeds, racing and generally reckless behavior well before the fatal accident.

Wendy Nimmons, who organized the meeting, says the problems have been getting worse and worse for the last two years. “I’ve been calling so long and so often that the dispatchers know my voice. But it keeps getting worse, so I just keep fussing and yelling about it. What else are we supposed to do?”

She said that there is a large meth presence in the area. “Probably eighty per cent of the crime stems from meth use. People steal to get the money to buy it. They break into homes and garages. But we also have a lot of kids who have no respect for anything. Vandalism, speeding, things like that can be blamed on those kinds of things.”

She says that shots being fired aren’t all that unusual. Neither are response times of an hour or more. “If the deputy gets the call in Powdersville, he’s gonna be an hour getting here, if he hurries,” said Nimmons. “They need to keep an officer in Pelzer.”

“Williamston isn’t the only place with problems,” she said. “Theirs are financial, but ours are life and death. We pay taxes, and we deserve the same protection as everyone else.”

West Pelzer has personnel issues

By Stan Welch

The Town of West Pelzer continues to face staffing problems, with Police Chief Bernard Wilson being forced to patrol the Town without any other police officers. Wilson is the lone law enforcement official currently certified to perform his duties. An additional officer is expected to join the force shortly.

 Several applicants appeared at the Town Hall in recent days and applied for jobs, but none of the applicants are state certified. A reserve officer is currently serving on weekends.

Wilson explained that new hires can serve for up to a year without attending the SC Criminal Justice Academy for training. 

Another personnel matter resulted in a recent effort to “write up” West Pelzer Town Clerk Beth Elgin which may have violated state law governing the conduct of public meetings. The brief written reprimand of Elgin, for her comments to a member of the Town Council, which were deemed disrespectful, was signed by all five members of the Town Council on August 14, the date of their last Council meeting.

That meeting concluded with an executive session called to deal with a personnel issue. The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, which governs the conduct of public meetings, allows executive sessions to be conducted for several reasons, including certain personnel issues. The SCFOIA, however, forbids any action or vote being taken in executive session. Even the vote to return to open session must be taken in public.

On August 14, upon returning to open session the Mayor announced that no votes or action was taken in the executive session. Council immediately voted to adjourn.

According to sources familiar with the subsequent sequence of events, the reprimand, which was two lines of typed language on a plain sheet of paper, was presented to Elgin the following day, August 15. Mayor Paxton confirmed  that she presented it to Elgin, and requested her to sign it. Elgin was reportedly told to sign it, or face further action.

Elgin reportedly accused Councilman Marshall King of spreading lies about her and her family, following an incident several weeks ago during which Elgin’s husband and Councilman Joe Turner’s son were involved in an altercation leading to both men’s arrest.

Said Paxton, “I told Beth that what happened the day she and the Council member had words should never have happened. I agreed with the Council’s actions, but it seems we might have been out of line in doing it the way we did.”

The way they apparently did it was to have Council already have the reprimand typed, and possibly even signed before hand. When the decision to issue the reprimand was made, and under what authority, remains in question.

Paxton says she signed it in her office during the executive session. “I know I signed it then, but I really can’t remember whether the others had signed it before coming into the office, or did it while we were in there. I know we didn’t vote on it after coming out of executive session.”

Joe Newton, director of government operations for ACOG, said he wasn’t sure what circumstances would allow Council to reprimand Elgin in the manner described. “In the strong mayor form of government, the mayor could reprimand a department head. The Council could have called the employee in and asked them to explain their actions, but whether they can issue this type of reprimand is a tough one. But clearly, this could have been handled better.”

ACT results rank District One sixth

With a composite score of 20.8 that ranks the district sixth among the state’s eighty-five school systems, Anderson School District One administration expressed mixed feelings about the marks on the ACT test results. 

“We’re not used to having the feeling of going backwards on test results.  But looking at those of other districts across the region and the state, it seems it was a year for many to take small steps back,” remarked John Pruitt, Director of Secondary Education for Anderson One.  “Of course we would hope to improve year after year, but as more students take the test, results often decline.” The district’s composite score declined 0.8 point as compared to the 2005 results.

“ACT scores, like SAT scores, vary from year to year, class to class.  We have had an increase in test takers over the past five years.  Educational statistics tell us that when you see an increase in test-takers, you usually see a temporary decrease in scores.  We are proud that both of our high schools have demonstrated significant gains in recent years and that our scores are still respectable even though we had more students taking the test,” said Pruitt.

“ACT and SAT scores are not designed to measure the quality of a school or school district. However, we know our communities expect constant improvement.  Our teachers, counselors, and administration encourage all students to aspire to a two or four year college causing an increasing number of students to take either the ACT, SAT, or both,” stated Dr. Wayne Fowler, Superintendent of Anderson One.

 “We will continue to have high expectations for outstanding student academic achievement and will work with the principals and school staff members to identify short and long term strategies for ACT and SAT improvement.  As with any other measure of academic success, we will strive to have our students remain among the top in the state and the country,” Fowler concluded.

District One students bring in scholarships

The 2006 graduating class from Anderson School District One’s Palmetto and Wren High Schools have established an impressive total of scholarship dollars to further their education at two and four year colleges.  Last year’s graduating class from the two schools received approximately $6.4 million.  When compared to previous years, the amount represents an approximate 400% increase over the total just five years ago.   Over that period, the two schools have combined to bring in just over $17 million in scholarship funds. 

South Carolina’s graduating high school seniors in the Class of 2006 were awarded $613 million in college scholarships as announced by State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum.  That is the highest total since the state first began tracking the information with the Class of 2002.  The senior class total of $613,992,984 was a $59 million increase over the previous year, pushing South Carolina’s five-year scholarship total to more than $2.4 billion.

The LIFE, HOPE, and Palmetto Fellows scholarships represent about a fifth of the state’s total.  The South Carolina State Legislature appropriates college scholarship dollars for state students using these various awards from revenues generated by the South Carolina Education Lottery.  All are based to varying degrees on student academic achievement and standardized test scores.  The State Department of Education estimated that 90 percent of the state’s scholarships are academic and 10 percent are athletic, although sports scholarships also have academic requirements.

Of the 85 school districts in the state, Anderson School District One students’ scholarship award totals place them 28th.  The district makes up slightly less than one percent of the state’s student population.

County wide initiative to help plan for future

Over the next three months, Anderson County residents will be invited to share their ideas for planning the county’s future through a new initiative, Imagine Anderson.

Imagine Anderson is being led by a steering committee of nearly 50 Anderson area leaders who hope to gather input from as many of the county’s 170,000 citizens as possible. The goal of the initiative is to involve and engage residents in planning the county’s future.

With broad based citizen input, project leaders hope to develop a vision for the ideal Anderson, as welll as a plan for achieving goals identified during the imagining process.

The initiative will include one-on-one meetings with opinion makers and trendsetters from different businesses, churches, schools, communities and civic groups throughout the county, as well as focus groups and town hall meetings, officials said.

Citizens will also be able to share their ideas electronically by accessing the initiative web site at www.imagineanderson.com.

“Taking time to think about the future of Anderson will enable us to shape how growth takes place,” said Doug McDougald, Jr. chairman of the Imagine Anderson steering committee. “We have two choices. We can let the future happen to us or we can be a part of shaping it.”

“Over the next 20 years, growth and progress are inevitable. We need to plan how we would like that growth to develop. We need ideas from people from all generations and backgrounds. Imagine Anderson is a way to give a lot of citizens a say in their community’s future.”

Individual interviews, focus-group sessions and the town-hall meetings will be facilitated by consultants with an organization called Carpe Diem Community Solutions, Inc. The  Florida-based firm has extensive experience in helping communities develop a shared image for their future, officials said.

“We plan to gather the hopes, dreams and aspirations of 170,000 Anderson County residents,” said Anderson businesswoman Louise Trammell, who is spearheading the intiative’s efforts to involve the community in the vision and goal setting process.

“We want to make all Andersonians a part of the process and owners of the vision. We want them to imagine what Anderson could be. We want them to come up with a picture for the future. Then we want to inspire them to make it happen.”

Community forums will allow residents to discuss topics of interest and concern to them and their families in the areas of business and economic development, education, the arts, government, diversity and environment.

From the community input, Carpe Diem consultants will work with the steering committee to develop a list of goals, along with vision statements for each goal.  A proposed vision plan will be presented to the community in early 2007, officials said.

An implementation team will work with groups churches, organizations and individuals who agree to support one or more objectives of the vision plan once it is approved.

“When citizens are brought into the vision-creation process,” McDougald said, “they become invested. A community vision emerges that they own. They become stakeholders in their community’s future.”

A similar process was undertaken several years ago in which Anderson County officials held community based meetings throughout the county.

“A number of years ago, our community went through a visioning process that led to the creation of some groundbreaking facilities,” said Lee Luff, president of the Greater Anderson Chamber of Commerce. “We want to continue that momentum and progress into the next 20 years.”

The community kickoff will be held at the Anderson Civic Center at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29.

Community meetings for Imagine Anderson will be held in the outlying municipalities during October.

Community meetings will be held from 6 p.m to 8 p.m. and will include Pendleton/Townville at Pendleton High School on October 9; Powdersville/Piedmont at Wren High School on October 10; Starr/Iva on Oct. 16; Belton Honea Path on Oct. 17; Willliamston, Pelzer, and West Pelzer at Palmetto High School on Oct. 23 and the City of Anderson at the City Rec. Center on Oct. 24.

The final plan it expected to be announced at a community celebration in February, officials said.

Project funding comes from elected officials, lobbyists

By Stan Welch

A spokesman for Congressman Gresham Barrett said the Congressman has no specific response to recent comments by County Administrator Joey Preston concerning the County’s decision to employ professional lobbyists to seek federal funding for road and bridge projects.

Darryl Broome, District Director for Barrett, said that the Congressman will begin the process of contacting various county and municipal governments in his District to ascertain their needs and the areas in which the Congressman can be of service. “The Congressman has chosen to use a process that involves communicating with the various officials in the District. He usually begins making those contacts in late October and November, so that he can be prepared by mid-February to present those requests to the appropriate committees in Washington.”

Broome said that the Congressman was unaware of Preston’s comments, offered at the last Council meeting, during a progress report on several federally funded road and bridge projects underway in the County. Preston, whose use of professional lobbyists to pursue funding has drawn criticism from District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, made a pointed reference to that decision, saying, “The message I hope that comes from this is if our Senators and Congressman could get these funds, why didn’t they?”

The projects Preston referred to include a $1.2 million dollar project at the AnMed campus, which includes installing turn lanes, curbs, medians and sidewalks. One million dollars of that funding came from federal earmarks, which Preston credits the lobbyists with obtaining. According to Preston, AnMed paid $200,000 in design and legal costs.  

Wilson has questioned why the AnMed project should be publicly funded.

Other projects mentioned included the McClellan Road bridge replacement, which is being done by the recently established in-house crew maintained by the County. The cost of that project is $510,000, with federal earmarks providing $248,000 of the total.

The Brown Road bridge replacement project is being funded by contributions of $30,000 from Districts Four and Five, $60,000 in C-funds, state funding in the amount of $1.2 million, and federal funds of $1.5 million. Indications are that additional matching funds will be required as costs increase from the current $3.4 million to approximately $4.2 million.

Preston reported that the federal earmarks for the County total $6.5 million of a total of $10 million in projects planned or under way. It was then that he made the comment about the Senators and Congressman’s inability to obtain the funding. “We now have a staff that knows how the system works,” said Preston at the Council meeting.

Broome said that some Counties in the Congressman’s District use lobbyists and some don’t. “The Congressman works just as hard for one of the Counties he serves as he does the others,” said Broome. “Just like the Counties that use lobbyists, sometimes we’re successful in obtaining funds, and sometimes we aren’t. “

Broome pointed out that the Congressman has been successful in obtaining funds for several road and bridge projects in the area, including several that had become safety concerns.

Jean committed as District 7 candidate

By Stan Welch

Ed Jean, Democratic candidate for the District Seven County Council seat, has been so busy he has spent little time campaigning. He recently resumed refereeing high school football, and he continues to work at a local restaurant as a “greeter and seater”, as he puts it. He also stays involved in local government. Being so busy doesn’t mean he has no plans for when he is elected, or any opinions about the issues he says led him to run in the first place.

Referring for example, to the lack of general information concerning the reported retirement of Anderson County Emergency Services Director Tommy Thompson, Jean said, “I don’t know why they are being so secretive about that. When I’m Councilman, I hope we can bring things to the surface and deal with them openly. This kind of thing is unnecessary and just feeds people’s suspicions.”

Jean says he promises positive, responsible leadership. “I think it’s just time for a change.  (Incumbent Councilwoman) Cindy Wilson and Joey Preston seem to be locked in some kind of oneupsmanship, and it’s hurting the District and the County. We can’t move forward if we’re always trying to defend our turf over stupid things.”

Jean stresses his longterm involvement with local government. “I have attended Council meetings, planning commission meetings, served on the tax task force with Councilman Dees and Rep. Townsend, as well as others. I have a rapport with a number of the county staff, including various department heads. No other citizen in Anderson County has attended as many various meetings as I have. I mean, it’s not as if I’ll have to call and introduce myself when I’m elected. I have insight into the workings of the County, and I have ideas on how to improve that performance.”

Jean, who worked for EcoLabs for thirty years, retiring in 2000, said he generally approves of the job county administrator Joey Preston has done. “I’ve been asked to grade him, and I’d give him a high B or an A for the actual performance of his duties. But that’s only two thirds of the entire grade. I give him the same grade based on his qualifications, such as education. But that’s only half of the remaining third of the grade. On public relations, I give him a C because of the way things like Mr. Thompson’s retirement are handled. Why do things that stir up suspicion among the people who already oppose him? Why couldn’t an announcement be made about Mr. Thompson? For heaven’s sakes, the man should at least receive a thank you for his service.”

Jean also addressed several questions concerning his personal history. He was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, and grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from William and Mary College in Virginia, and despite his childhood, claims a Southern heritage that includes an ancestor, Cincinnatus Jean, who fought at Malvern Hill.

He went to work for EcoLabs and rose through the company’s management, holding the position of VP of Government Accounts, VP of Corporate Accounts, and District Manager at various stages of his career. He moved from Frederick, Maryland with his wife Sandy to South Carolina in 1989, living in the Moonville area when they first arrived.

 “The company grew tremendously while I was with them. My retirement left me financially comfortable,” said Jean. So comfortable, in fact, that he pledges to donate ten percent of his Council earnings quarterly to a community organization. “I’ll probably lean towards athletic and recreational efforts, since I love sports so much.” Jean stressed that “This will be a check from Ed Jean personally, not from some slush fund. I love the Anderson County area and this will let me give something back.” Jean hopes to tie the donation to some sort of public service by the recipients.

Jean says that his business experience has taught him that team work and cooperation are what gets things done. “I’ve traveled all over the county. I’ve been on just about every military base in this country, and in most of the federal prisons. And no, I wasn’t a prisoner. I was working for the company on those visits. But my business and my life experience have given me certain insights into issues that face this County today. I can bring a lot to the table when I am elected.”

 Jean emphasized one last thing. “I want everyone to know that I mean this. I was not asked by anyone to run for this seat. I have no agenda. I don’t own land I want rezoned, or unzoned or anything like that. I think that it is time for a change in the dynamic of the county government. I can work with the incoming Council, and I will be my own man. I will ask the questions that I want answered and I will vote in a way to best serve the needs and wishes of my district. I am 65, and I have the energy for this job. I have no ambitions beyond serving on county council. I don’t want to be a state representative or a Senator. I am not concerned about being reelected. I am concerned about doing the job as it should be done.”

Low clearance causes loss of load

An Allied Container Corp. truck carrying two dumpsters travelling south on Hwy. 29 attempted to pass under the Cherokee Rd.bridge and found the clearance too low, resulting in a loss of the load. The height of the bridge is 14 feet 10 inches. The dumpsters were knocked off the truck when it went under the bridge, and crashed  into a pickup truck pulling a trailer filled with dynamite. The driver of the pickup was taken to a local hospital. Officials determined the trailer did not present an immediate danger. The West Pelzer Fire Department responded. The SC Highway Patrol was expected to charge the Allied truck driver, officials said.

Seems to Me . . .Until the next election . . .

By Stan Welch

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy has had a rough week or two, when it comes to public opinion and the public in general.

Clardy has been a lightning rod for strong public sentiment, whether for or against him. Perhaps one of his most controversial traits is to acknowledge his actions, considered careless by many and down right illegal by some; all the while saying that he didn’t do anything the Council didn’t let him do.

What makes this explanation so frustrating to many is that it has a great deal of truth to it.  Clardy has been given a virtually free rein by past Councils. His tendency to run free under the lack of control has chafed many in town.

Well, it simmered for awhile, but the bad blood between many of the Town’s people and Mayor Phillip Clardy boiled over again in recent weeks. Twice. So far.

First, the residents of the Gatewood community attended a public forum last week concerning the leachate being dumped into the town’s wastewater system, as well as other issues with that system. Within moments of the meeting starting, residents and the Mayor were shouting at each other, despite the Mayor’s plea that he hadn’t come there to argue. Whether he did or not didn’t seem to matter to the folks at the meeting. They had.

They called him a liar, among other things. When the Mayor complained that he felt the residents’ attacks were personal, resident James Bowman Sr. agreed that they were in the mayor’s case. They accused him of routinely breaking his word about everything from notifying them about meetings to whether he called the leachate simple rainwater.

It went on for an hour, and it got so ugly that Sonya Harrison, the Goldie & Associates engineer who was there to answer questions, had to keep getting the discussion back on track. No one left that meeting happy.

Just about the time those wounds were starting to scab over, thirty-five or forty of the Mayor’s most devoted critics showed up at last Thursday’s budget work session. I can’t recall whether the actual term ‘liar’ was used at that meeting, but there was very little love for the Mayor in that room. He was ripped for spending sixteen hundred dollars on pressure washing the Town Hall. The fact that bids weren’t sought, and the person who did the job reportedly had neither business license nor insurance didn’t help.

The public certainly had their share to say, but so did one of the Town Councilmen, Marion Middleton, Jr. As a writer and a sarcastic sort of fellow myself, I always appreciate a good line, and Middleton, Jr. got off a couple. He accused the Mayor of grandstanding and being indifferent to the town’s circumstances, so long as he, Clardy, was in the spotlight.

He said the Mayor still had no understanding of the real gravity of the matter, or of how to administer the town’s government. He expressed his opinion that there was no reason to think that the monies that would be raised by a proposed twenty per cent tax hike would be spent any more wisely than Town funds had been spent in the past.

You can say what you will about Mayor Clardy, and many do, but the man can take a beating. He clearly doesn’t enjoy being savaged by his own electorate, and he may never serve another term. But he seems determined to serve this one.

In the end, what was accomplished was that there were significant controls put in place that will decrease the Mayor’s previously total authority in certain fiscal matters, and increase the participation of the Council. There are many more such decisions to be made, and not just in the area of finance.

The town’s alleged Code of Ordinances is less impressive than the student handbook that my son brought home from high school. A remarkable absence of regulation has contributed greatly to the Town’s circumstances. For those circumstances to improve, there is much to be done.

The events of last week, unpleasant and boisterous as they may have been, may well have been small, but necessary, steps towards a new level of accountability by all the Town’s elected officials. They are strides that at least one Councilman is intent on lengthening. Middleton, Jr.’s impatience is clear.

Seems to me as everyone gets more and more used to the idea of full participation by all five members of the Council, the conduct of the Council may be less flamboyant and confrontational, and more productive. At least until elections draw near in two years; when that happens, it’s every man for himself.

Bonus story

Top pro riders coming to Greenville

Top-ranked Pro Tour riders George Hincapie (Discovery Channel Professional Cycling Team), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), and David Zabriskie (Team CSC), as well as emerging talent Craig Lewis (TIAA-CREF) headline the field of professional American cyclists who will compete in the 2006 USA Cycling Professional Championships in Greenville, over Labor Day weekend.

Medalist Sports, the sports agency licensed by USA Cycling to operate the Championships, announced some of the top riders who will compete in both the Individual Time Trial Championship on Friday, September 1 and the Road Race Championship on Sunday, September 3.

“The prestige of the USA Cycling Professional Championships has been a big part of American cycling for over 20 years and having this event in Greenville for the first time with new, challenging routes is a big draw for the athletes and the sport. Most of the riders will compete in both disciplines, so it will be an exciting weekend of professional cycling. We anticipate over 30,000 people in Greenville for the Championships, and all the festivities in downtown all weekend surrounding the event,” said Chris Aronhalt, Managing Director of Medalist Sports and Executive Director for the USA Cycling Professional Championships.

Other top names of domestic cycling competing in Greenville are defending road race national champion Chris Wherry (Toyota-United Pro), two-time (2003,2005) elite national time trial champion Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United Pro), 2004 road race national champion Mark McCormack (Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home Wine), and 2004 Olympian Jason McCartney (Discovery Channel Professional Cycling Team).

“Wearing the Stars and Stripes jersey (as national champion) is awesome. I feel every day that I ride in the National Championship jersey, I want to rise to the occasion and represent that jersey as best I can. It has been a great year of wearing it, fans look at you differently and know your name. I’d like to keep it for at least another year,” said Wherry, who has been a professional since 1997 and had his best year in 2005. “As far as the (Greenville) course, I think it is a great course for me and for the team. It has a great climb, so it suits our talents. I’m looking forward to it.”

Two Greenville residents will be riders to watch for both the Road Race Championship and the Individual Time Trial Championship. Hincapie won the road race national title in 1998. He is a four-time Olympian for the United States and has completed 10 Tour de France races. In 2006 Hincapie wore the yellow jersey after Stage 1 as the leader of the Tour de France. Lewis, who is just 21 years old, was the top American finisher at the 2003 Junior World Championships. After recovering from a racing accident in 2004 that sidelined him for most of the year, Lewis returned stronger than ever and captured two national titles in 2006 – the Under 23 National Road Race Championship and the Under 23 National Criterium Championship.

Leipheimer, a Montana native who has raced professionally since 1997, is considered an all-around rider who can contend for both the road race and ITT titles. He rode in his breakthrough performance at the 2001 Vuelta a Espana, where he took third place overall. In 2002, Levi was the highest American finisher in the Tour de France after Lance Armstrong, riding to an eighth place finish. He suffered a fractured pelvis in 2003, but was signed as the team leader of the German-based Gerolsteiner team in 2005. This year he won the Dauphiné Libéré and finished second in the Tour of Germany. Leipheimer recently announced that he will be joining Hincapie on the Discovery Channel Professional Cycling Team in 2007.

Look for Zabriskie at The Cliffs Valley finish line to do something special in the Individual Time Trial. Turning professional in 2001, the Salt Lake City, Utah native has specialized in the race against the clock, also known as “the race of truth”. His biggest win was in 2005 at the Tour de France when he won the opening Prologue and wore the yellow leader’s jersey. He became the first American to win a stage in all three grand tours: Vuelta a Espana, Giro d’Italia, and the Tour de France. This year he won two time trials at the prominent Dauphiné Libéré event in France.

A complete roster for each event at the USA Cycling Professional Championships will be available next week at the official website (www.usacyclingchampionships.com).

Approximately 70 athletes are expected for the 20.15-mile USA Cycling Professional Individual Time Trial Championship, presented by The Cliffs, and a field of 120 is expected for the 121-mile USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship, presented by Charter Communications. Professionals will compete for over $60,000 in prize money. The events are sanctioned by USA Cycling, the governing body for the sport of cycling in the United States, and managed by Medalist Sports.

The USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship, a one-day road race which began in 1985, was previously held in Philadelphia, Pa. Past winners of the prestigious Stars and Stripes jersey for the road race discipline, which signifies the American champion, include speed skating Olympic champion Eric Heiden (1985), Lance Armstrong (1993), Hincapie (1998) and Fred Rodriguez (2000, 2001, 2004).

Past winners of the elite national time trial championship include Zabriskie (2004) and Leipheimer (1999). 

Not only does 2006 mark the first time that an American will be recognized as a professional individual time trial champion, but it is also the first time the road race field will be comprised solely of U.S. citizens.

The competitors must also be members of UCI-registered trade teams only. Previously, the event was open to both American and international professional riders, with the title of USPRO Champion awarded to the first American across the line.

In addition to the Championships, Greenville will host a festival and interactive expo for race fans and visitors called Rock and Roll for Cancer Research.

The Saturday festival will include fundraiser bicycle rides, expo with health and wellness exhibits, four free concerts, including Sister Hazel, and an Athlete Presentation ceremony.

OLN  will feature the USA Cycling Professional Championships on its national “Cyclysm Sundays” program on  September 10 at 5 p.m. eastern time.

Legendary cycling announcer Phil Liggett, who is part of OLN’s team of cycling experts on its Tour de France coverage, will call the action for both the Individual Time Trial and the Road Race championships.

Kent Gordis Productions, based in New York, N.Y., will have four cameras along both the Individual Time Trial and Road Race courses to catch the action, as well as access to helicopter coverage being provided by The Cliffs. Medalist Sports, the executive producers of the package, will create a 90-minute show for the September 10 broadcast.

A full schedule of events is provided at www.usacyclingchampionships.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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