News Archive

Week of Sept. 1, 2004

Turner case dismissed on warrant technicality
Outreach activities planned for Labor Day
District One addresses state, federal mandates
Woodmont principal Dr. Randy Reagan plans school improvements
23rd annual Spring Water festival a hit
District One SAT average above state, below national

Turner case dismissed on warrant technicality

The assault and battery case against former Williamston police chief Richard Turner was dismissed last Thursday on a technicality involving the warrant process.

Saluda Municipal Judge Frank Partridge dismissed the case approximately thirty minutes into the court proceedings after Sgt. Zack Gregory testified that he “couldn’t recall 100 percent” whether his affidavit was sworn before Judge Jimmy Cox before police Lt. Brent Brooks obtained the warrant for Turner’s arrest.

Turner was charged with assault and battery after an alleged shoving incident at the Williamston police department between the former chief and Sgt. Gregory.

The alleged incident occurred June 23, 2003 after Turner’s son Steven was told by Williamston’s new Police Chief Troy Martin that his employment with the town had been terminated.

Gregory testified that he was sick and at home on the date he signed the warrant and that the warrant had been brought to him by former Lieutenant Brent Brooks.

When he was asked by Judge Partridge if the statement on the warrant had been sworn to before or after Williamston’s Municipal Judge James M. Cox issued it, Sgt. Gregory said that he could not remember.

Due to the technicality the judge dismissed the case.

Judge Partridge stated that the Williamston Police Department could reissue the warrant and continue with the charges if they wanted.

A faxed statement sent out by Chief Troy Martin dated August 26 stated, “Even though it meant the possibility of looking unprofessional, Sergeant Gregory kept his integrity by testifying to what he felt was the truth.”

The statement also included, “For those of you who feel like Richard Turner was vindicated today, please understand, this was not a “not guilty” or a “guilty” verdict. The court simply did not hear it because of the possibility of the warrant process in compromise.”

Martin stated in the release, “In the pursuit of justice, it is now my responsibility to confer with the victim and our prosecutor to determine if another warrant will be issued or not, starting this process all over again. I have maintained time and again, this case or any other case is not personal to my department or me. We treat them all the same regardless of the individual involved.”

A decision whether or not to pursue the case will be made within the next couple of weeks, according to Martin.

After the case was dismissed on the technicality, Williamston mayor Phillip Clardy said he has no reason to not have full confidence in the Williamston Police Department or Chief Troy Martin.

Mayor Clardy said  the town is seeking legal advice to determine if it will proceed with the charges.

“The decision is up to the victim, (Gregory),” Clardy said. “The town is looking carefully at the case.”

“This is a case that we do not want to be treated any different from any other case,” the mayor said. “Yet it is different because of who it involves,” he said.

“We don’t want to make it any more or any less than it is,” Clardy said.

Clardy said that he has contacted the town attorney for legal advice and “would not make a hasty decision.”

Outreach activities planned for Labor Day

A 3-day community outreach program offering something for all ages will be held at Sue Cleveland school campus in Piedmont during the Labor Day weekend.

The event will feature a youth basketball tournament on Sept. 3, a car and motorcycle cruise-in and county-wide gospel fest on Sept. 4, and outdoor services under the tent on Sept. 5, according to organizer Pastor Rich Stoddard.

The event is being sponsored by the New Mt. Bethel Baptist Church in Piedmont.

Stoddard said he is hoping other churches in the area will volunteer to be involved in the ministry activities.

“We are trying to meet the needs of the community,” he said. Stoddard said the activities are part of a community outreach program to meet the needs of the community and at the same time working to correct problems with individuals in the world by raising up a new generation of caring people.

Stoddard said he hopes to draw interested persons from the Williamston, Pelzer and Piedmont areas.

The 3-day event will begin with a basketball tournament for ages 16 and up beginning at 6 p.m. Sept. 3. at Woodmont High School.

Deadline for team registration is August 30. There is no registration fee and no set number of players for a team, Stoddard said. Donations will be accepted for referees.

The community is then invited to a county wide gospel fest on Saturday, Sept. 4 from 9 a.m to 6 p.m. at Sue Cleveland School. The “Celebration Fest” will feature entertainment from a variety of gospel music groups along with games, prizes and free food.

Information booths from organization such as Health Services, the Urban League, Habitat for Humanity, financial institutions and others will also be set up at the site.

A motorcycle and car cruise-in will also be held on Saturday beginning at 12 noon.  All area bike riders and car enthusiasts are invited to participate.

 Church services and gospel entertainment will be held at Sue Clevelend under a huge tent beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday. Lunch will be served following the services, organizers said.

If your church or organization is interested in participating or for more information or registration for any of the activities, call the New Mt. Bethel Baptist Church office at (864) 947-9966.

District One addresses state, federal mandates

During the Anderson School District One Board meeting Tuesday, board members were told that standards for schools are increasing this year under the No Child Left Behind Act and board members approved a resolution asking Congress to support  funding for federal mandates and Title I requirements.

Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler reported to board members that under the requirements of  No Child Left Behind act, two District One schools, Pelzer Elememtary and Palmetto Primary would have to offer a choice to parents with children in the schools.

Fowler said letters were sent to parents August 5 explaining school choice and allowing them to submit a request for transfer by August 27.

Fowler said that the feedback he received in the form of email or personal contact by parents was positive. Some parents who talked with the school principals told them, “We like the school we’re in.”

“There was not one making any request to transfer based on this information,” Fowler told board members.

Fowler also reported that the district increased enrollment by 210 students over last year and had total enrollment of 8383 on the tenth day.

Fowler also reported that District One students scored 16 points above the state but 25 points below the national level on SAT scores. The District has reported scores from 989 to 1047 over the past five years.

According to Fowler, the district encourages students to take challenging courses which improve SAT scores.

“If you take challenging courses, your’re going to do well on the SAT,” Fowler said.

He also said the scores are impacted by the number of students who take it.

“We have more students take it because they want to have a chance at a scholarhip,” he said.

Fowler also told board members the district, along with other school districts in the state, will have to continue to improve as standards increase each year under the Educational Accountability Act.

Beginning this year, the index values for determining ratings will increase each year by one tenth of a point.

Under the Average Yearly Progress standards, last years 3.4 excellent rating now has to be a 3.5 and eventually will require a 4.5 by 2014, Fowler said.

Fowler said the goal of the increasing standard is to get all students to the proficient level by 2014. The standards currently require students to test at least at the basic level.

The requirement is a state standard which has been added to the federal No Child Left Behind initiative, Fowler said.

According to Fowler, the state standards are the 3rd most challenging set of standards in the nation and  South Carolina ranks at 13 or 14 in having the most difficult testing program in the nation.

“It is very challenging,” he said.

Assistant Superintendent David Havird said that the district’s nutritional services program is off to a very good start, “serving more and more students,” with a focus on “student nutrition and activity.”

 According to Havird, the district is already doing a number of the items recommended by the state.

“We have been doing some of these recommended items for several years,” he said.

The district offers menu choices, ala-cart purchases, emphasizes low fat milk,  fruit and whole grain products such as rolls and hamburger buns, and has cut sugar and calories in the foods.

“We are at the forefront in providing good healthy meals,” he said.

In other business, board members unanimously approved second reading on an AED policy for the district.

Two new automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were recently made available to the district.

Board members also approved the extension of a one year lease on property located at Midway Rd. and Hwy. 8 known at the potato house. The property is leased to John David Durham.

Acting on recommendation by Superintendent Fowler, the board approved six home schooling requests.

Dr. Fowler updated the board on district building programs. He said the Palmetto High School construction did get behind due to weather but contractors said they have added additional brick masons and will be back on schedule soon. He said he expects the building to be ready to be occupied by the first of the year as scheduled.

Dr. Fowler said the Wren High School field has been finished and old bleachers have been moved to the Powdersville Middle field.

A new ballfield at Palmetto now has working irrigation and is being sodded and sprigged.

Construction at Cedar Grove school has been completed, according to Dr. Fowler. Fowler said the contractor has been asked to replace some brickwork which district officials said they didn’t think was up to standard.

Board members unanimously approved a  resolution  urging Senators Lindsey Graham and Fritz Hollings and Representative Gresham Barrett to support a $4.7 billion increase in public education funding by Congress.

Board Chairman Fred Alexander said the federal share of special education funding is only 19 percent of the promised 40 percent and the funding levels for Title I are below the cost of the federal mandates.

The funding shortfall is forcing local schools to compensate by raising local school and property taxes, Alexander said.

At the recommendation of Dr. Fowler, the board also approved the following personnel requests:

Requests for leave - Amy Brady, Palmetto Middle, TMD, six weeks maternity and two weeks family medical; Mary O. Gilstrap, Palmetto Elementary, grade 3, six weeks maternity and six weeks family medical; Hope Meares, Palmetto Elementary 5K, six weeks maternity and two weeks family medical; Ashley Melton, Cedar Grove Elementary grade 4, six weeks maternity and two weeks family medical; Sonja Pack, Palmetto High LD resource, five weeks maternity; Ginger Thompson, Wren Middle, grade 8, six weeks maternity and two weeks family medical.

Resignations - Lee Morgan, Wren Middle, 7th grade math.

Transfers - Meri Cooper, from Pelzer Elementary Grade 1 to Palmetto Elementary Grade 1; Candy Davis, Concrete Primary, from .5FTE 4K to 1.0 FTE 5K; Kathleen Tyner, from Palmetto Elmentary Grade 1 to Wren Elementary Kindergarten.

Recommendations - Lisa Davis, Concrete Primary, Academic Assistance .5FTE; Margaret Dickert, Wren Middle, Math; Bonnie Hasson, Spearman Elementary Grade 5; Cindy Hembree, Hunt Meadows Elementary, Kindergarten; Joyce Leftwich, Powdersville Elementary, LAUNCH .4FTE; Katherine Meredith, Concrete Primary, 4K .5 FTE; Kristen Terry, Palmetto Middle, Science.

Woodmont principal Dr. Randy Reagan plans school improvements

Dr. Randy Reagan, new principal at Woodmont High School, has a reputation for turning schools around, and he has plans to do just that at Woodmont.

Leaving behind a record of strong leadership at Lakewood High School in Sumter County, Reagan took over as principal at Woodmont July 1.

During Reagan’s two-year tenure at Lakewood High, the school’s Report Card absolute rating from the state went from “below average” in 2002 to “good” in 2003. The school’s improvement moved from “unsatisfactory” to “excellent” in the same time period.

Reagan’s priorities for Woodmont involve seeing the same level of improvement by addressing the evaluation criteria of the report card rating.

“We must address the areas that are used by the Department of Education to evaluate our school on the Report Card,” Reagan says.

One of Reagan’s goals for Woodmont is to increase the percentage of 10th graders who pass the Exit Exam by graduation to 87.3 percent from 68.9 percent in 2003. This affects 30 percent of the Report Card rating.

Another goal is to increase the percentage of 10th graders who pass all three subtests of the Exit Exam to 61.6 percent from 61.1 percent in 2003. This affects 20 percent of the Report Card rating.

Increasing the percentage of seniors who qualify for the Life Scholarship by scoring 1100 on the SAT or 24 on the ACT to 10 percent is another goal. Statistics from the 2003 Report Card for the school show 4.2 percent which determines 20 percent of the Report Card rating.

The final goal is to increase the graduation rate of students who begin 9th grade at Woodmont to 73.3 percent. The graduation rate on the 2003 Report Card was 59.3 percent which affects 30 percent of the Report Card rating.

Reagan says that his ultimate goal for the school is to have the highest improvement rating in Greenville County.

Currently, the school has the highest dropout rate in the county, and it appears the school’s Report Card for 2004 may slip even lower according to Reagan.

Reagan sees Woodmont as a “diamond in the rough” and is looking forward to “becoming a participant as the school begins to realize its full potential.” He plans to implement strategies and policies which he has found to be successful in achieving specific goals.

A “No pass-No Play” policy which will be initiated the second half of the school year has already been discussed with students at the school. Students who pass all courses may receive a free parking permit and attend the prom free.

Reagan admits that this policy is not necessarily popular with students but has received a great deal of support from parents in the past. Previous experience has shown that the failure rate was cut in half after the initiation of this policy, Reagan says.

Seniors will also have the opportunity to receive academic awards jackets which will be provided by the PTSA at the school.

After consulting with the School Improvement Council, the PTSA, and parents, Reagan has accepted the need to improve communication efforts at Woodmont. A monthly newsletter is now being mailed to every parent in order to provide timely information about school events and activities.

Reagan says that he has been impressed by the welcome that he has received from parents, teachers and the administrative staff at Greenville County. He has found the community to be “very kind and supportive,” and he readily admits a need for strong parent and community involvement in any school.

“The school-parent-community partnership plays a vital role in the public education process, and these links are especially important for us at Woodmont,” Reagan says.

To increase community involvement and student performance, Reagan adds that he is interested in establishing a mentoring program where members of the community may meet and work with at-risk students on a weekly basis.

Reagan was born in Texas and grew up in an Air Force family. He spent part of his childhood living in Japan and Germany before his family settled at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter.

Reagan spent seven years in the Navy Reserve and served as a hospital corpsman in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

A former science teacher, Reagan spent seven years in the classroom before becoming an assistant principal in Sumter County. He worked four years as an assistant principal, two years as a middle school principal, and two years as a high school principal before coming to Woodmont.

“Leading by example” best describes his style of management according to Reagan. “I won’t ask anyone to do something unless I’m willing to do it myself,” he says.

Reagan also adds that he believes in gathering information from students, teachers, and parents before making decisions.

Education is a family affair for Reagan and his wife Michelle who teaches science at Riverside Middle School in Greenville County.

The Reagans have two children – nine-year-old Joshua who attends Buena Vista Elementary and 11-year-old Shannon who attends Riverside Middle.

23rd annual Spring Water Festival a hit

Spring Water Festival organizer Bennie Hyder said she was well pleased with the 2004 festival.

Hyder wouldn’t venture to say how many visitors she thought attended the day long event, though past estimates have varied from 6000 to 20,000.

Unofficial estimates suggest at least 1000 visitors in the park hourly, with people coming and going throughout the day.

Though making crowd estimates is not easy, several indicators are the food and ride vendors and responses from the crafters.

According to Hyder, most food vendors appeared to be up on sales this year.

“It was at least as good or better than last year,” she said. “Some sold out.”

Crafters also did “real well” according to Hyder. “We had several crafters who were real excited,” she said. “The crafts area stayed full with festival visitors almost all day,” she said.

Several new craft vendors including one from North Carolina and another from Atlanta said they did real well and definitely wanted to come back, Hyder said.

The rides area was also a big draw for festival visitors  and had the added draw of several new rides designed for teens.

“Cox amusements said he did better here than anywhere he had been this year,” Hyder said.

Hyder said that lines at food vendors and at the petting zoo also indicated there was a good turnout, with most areas of the park staying crowded during the day.

“The crowd picked up with the entertainment,” Hyder said.

The historic depot, with seating for approximately 100 bluegrass fans, stayed full most of the day.

A highlight of the day was the presentation honoring bluegrass pioneer Ansel Guthrie on the depot stage.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy, along with Hyder, presented the local musician the key to the city along with the “rights and priviledges associated with it” and a town seal.

Guthrie delighted the crowd with his skills on mandolin with several songs. The honoree was also accompanied on one song by Mayor Clardy on the piano.

A special table was set up at the front of the depot near the stage, where Ansel, with his straw hat cocked back on his head, met fans and autographed photos.

Visitors also enjoyed two large cakes provided by Nancy Carroll, a member of Southern Grass Review bluegrass band, to celebrate the occasion.

“Wow. What a great time was had during the Spring Water Festival,” bluegrass stage organizer Jack Ellenburg said.

“I love Ansel.  He has been such a wonderful instrument in the sharing of his music.  I am glad to be a part of his life, and, his music will forever be a part of who I am,” Ellenburg said.

Overall, organizers were pleased with the 23rd annual event.

“I think it went very well. It was successful. There was a large crowd the entire day,” Hyder said.

There is a limited supply of 2004 Spring Water Festival T-shirts still available. Persons interested in purchasing a souvenir T-shirt can do so at Town Hall, Hyder said.

District One SAT average above state, below national

 The average Anderson School District One SAT score for the 2004 Senior Class was 1001 which exceeds the state average by 16 points but falls below the national average by 25 points. 

Both the American College Testing Program (ACT) and the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) are designed for students who plan to attend four-year colleges. Results of these tests are used by colleges and universities to make decisions about the admission of individual students to their programs and to assess students’ academic potential for success in college.

“We understand and share the high expectations of parents in our communities to see that their children can attend major colleges and universities,” commented Dr. Wayne Fowler, Superintendent of Anderson School District One.  The top ten percent of Anderson One’s students taking the test scored 1150. 

 “This points to the fact that students who prepare themselves by taking the most rigorous academic classes do well on the SAT,” said Fowler.

 “SAT scores vary from year to year, class to class.  We have had a significant increase in test takers over the past five years.  The College Board tells us that when you see an increase in test-takers, you usually see a temporary decrease in scores.  Teachers and students prepared using the same methods for the 2004 test as did the Class of 2002 that provided the highest scores in district history,” cited Fowler.

 “SAT scores are not designed to measure the quality of a school or school district. However, we know our communities expect constant improvement,” said Fowler.

Fowler continued, “Anderson School District One has historically encouraged all students to aspire to a two or four year college causing an increasing number of students to take the SAT.” 

The five year trend demonstrates this fact as the district has increased the number of students taking the test by 75 compared to a statewide increase of 285 over that same time frame.  “We are responsible for 26% of the state’s increase.”

“Academic and curricular improvement efforts throughout the system will continue to focus on preparing students for success in college or other career employment opportunities.  At the core of our belief system is that of preparing students to become lifelong learners.”

“We have a system-wide focus on rigorous academic requirements and constant encouragement for students to complete honors and advanced courses. In addition, the school system has provided extensive SAT preparation sessions for students and information sessions for parents,” said Dr. John Pruitt, Anderson One Director of Secondary Education.

 “With the driving forces of the Hope and Life Scholarships, many students take the ACT and SAT who have not prepared themselves as well as they should.  There is financial pressure as well as academic pressure being applied to these students.  Many have had lifelong dreams of attending a certain state university only to have these dreams put aside by the reality of these tests being used as predictors of collegiate academic success.” 

“We have identified needs and have begun implementation of strategies such as reading improvement, critical thinking skills, and vertical and horizontal alignment in an effort to provide the very best education we can deliver.”

“We will continue to have high expectations and will work with the principals and school staff members to identify short and long term strategies for SAT improvement,” Pruitt concluded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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