News Archive

(3507) Week of August 29, 2007

SLED reports no criminal activity; no charges filed
Festival ride, run, draw record attendance
West Pelzer approves first budget reading
Wren area grocery apparently on hold
District One approves new personnel, changes
SAT scores rank District among top 5 in state
Williamston police report
Driver reports being hit from behind on interstate
Limited edition paper weights offered
Horses seized
Block party planned for Labor Day Cycling Championships
Clemson readies for Monday game
Seems to Me . . .The past vs. the future

SLED reports no criminal activity; no charges filed

By Stan Welch

Following months and months of allegations and responses and investigation, SLED has released its report concerning its investigation into Mayor Clardy’s alleged misuse of his position for personal gain.

The results of that investigation, which was spurred by allegations made by a group of concerned citizens, indicate no criminal wrongdoing by the Mayor. The report summary, cited below, does reflect that poor or non-existent policies and procedures, as well as a lack of fiduciary responsibility, created a number of questionable circumstances.

On January 17, 2006 a group of citizens met with a representative from the Attorney General’s Office. Jan Dawkins, a long time critic of Mayor Clardy and his policies, acted as spokesperson. Her allegations ranged from the non-payment of federal and state payroll taxes going unpaid for three financial quarters, to the Mayor’s refusal to respond to Freedom of Information requests.

This meeting followed previous meetings with a SLED agent at which the same allegations were reported. As a result of the January meeting, an agent of the State Grand Jury was assigned to investigate.

In March of 2006, Dawkins was interviewed and stated that she had no first hand knowledge or evidence of any town employee committing fraud. She referred the investigators to Marion Middleton, Jr. as the best point of contact.

On March 30, Larry Finney, representative of the town’s auditing firm, which resigned in December of 2005, stated to investigators that he had seen nothing that would indicate fraud. He did indicate there was evidence of wasteful spending, however.

On March 31, Marion Middleton, Jr., who would later run for and win a seat on the Town Council, stated that he had no direct knowledge of any criminal wrongdoing by any town employee. Also on March 31, Bob Daniel, who had been retained to help the town work through its financial difficulties, indicated that he had not discovered any evidence of fraud.

On May 4, 2006, Cheryl Middleton, wife of Marion Middleton, Jr., sent a fax to the SLED investigator suggesting that he contact Mahala Cochran, Bennie Hyder, and Joel Vagen, all former employees of the Town of Williamston. Approximately a month later, Bennie Hyder was interviewed and said she had been contacted by the Middleton’s and Rocky Burgess, who told her SLED was trying to contact her.

She was informed that the Middletons had requested that she be interviewed concerning information she might have concerning allegations made by concerned citizens. She denied any knowledge of criminal wrongdoing, by any employee or the mayor.

This pattern of allegation and refuting would be repeated again and again. 

In June, Ms. Middleton e-mailed the investigator, saying that a citizen, Stephanie Sutherland, had information that Mayor Clardy and his assistant Josh Barnes, had possibly destroyed town records. When interviewed several weeks later, Sutherland denied any personal knowledge of such events, saying that a neighbor she identified only as Bobbie told her it happened.

In July of 2006, Bob Daniel provided investigators with a copy of the management letter provided as part of the audit conducted of the Town’s 2005 finances. The letter stated that various breakdowns in procedures had led the Town to financial crisis.

On August 16, Ms. Middleton, whose husband was now a member of the Town Council, e-mailed information stating that Bennie Hyder had purchased a speed reading program with the Town checkbook around March of 2005. Michelle Starnes, Town Clerk, subsequently provided documentation that the speed reading course was part of a software purchase the Town made and paid for. The company which sold the program later provided additional documentation.

On August 17, Ms. Middleton sent an e-mail repeating the allegation about the purchase of the speed reading course; the payment of $1600 by the Mayor for the pressure washing of the Town Hall, allegedly to friends of his; and the engraving of  several items for students who sent him graduation invitations.

The speed reading course has been explained; Clardy reported that the funds for pressure washing Town Hall came from an $8000 grant designated for parks, recreation and grounds. Michelle Starnes would later provide copies of all credit card statements and receipts, stating that she was unaware of any charge made to the account that was not directly related to town business.

She also provided documentation that all the back taxes, retirement fund payments and unpaid police fines and associated costs had been paid. The funds generated by the town’s real estate clearance sale in 2006 provided the funding to clear those debts, as part of the Town’s recovery plan.

Starnes was also questioned concerning a series of tax liens that had been provided by Cheryl Middleton. She explained that the liens were against Mayor Clardy’s private business, and had nothing to do with the Town of Williamston. She also accounted for all checks made out to “cash” and provided documentation and receipts for all purchases.

On August 23, 2006 Joel Vagen was interviewed, based on an e-mail from Cheryl Middleton, stating that he had information relating to the investigation. Vagen instead stated that he had no indication that Mayor Clardy or anyone else was doing anything of a criminal nature. He added that Williamston was divided between Clardy’s supporters and those who “are trying to prove he is a criminal.”

On September 18, and again on September 19, Ms. Middleton e-mailed the SLED agent with information that Clardy had used a PDA device provided by the Town to take photos of himself and an unidentified female in a sexual encounter.

On September 20, Clardy and Town Clerk Starnes, were both interviewed and addressed several issues. Clardy responded to questions concerning the payment to Josh Barnes for 21 hours of overtime during the ice storm, saying that all the comp time accrued by Barnes had been approved by himself. Michelle Starnes confirmed that.

He explained that an “Open Government Tour” was an annual event that allowed citizens to travel to Columbia and meet with their elected representatives. He said he was unaware of anyone being paid overtime. Starnes provided the documentation for the tour.

Both confirmed that Starnes did payroll for the Mayor’s restaurant employees, but stated that it was done on her own time. Clardy acknowledged making a statement at a staff meeting, but denied issuing a gag order, or threatening to fire anyone.

Clardy defended his personal use of the Town provided cell phone by saying no policy prohibiting such use was in place. Clardy denied hiring a Mr. Rob Sweetman to help assist elderly citizens with questions about their Medicare. He said Sweetman, allegedly a member of the Lt. Governor’s Council on Aging, volunteered his services.

Starnes reported that she knew nothing of Sweetman being paid, but that he was reimbursed for some supplies and the cost of a training class he attended was paid by the Town.

Clardy was also questioned about the incident involving the PDA, and denied it completely. He later recanted and said he did recall the incident.

Responding to other questions, Starnes conceded that Josh Barnes had received a $600 cash advance, and that she had mistakenly failed to see that the payments were deducted from his subsequent paychecks in a timely manner. Once she discovered the mistake, she said, the payments were deducted.

She also conceded that she had received pay advances on two occasions.

She strongly denied ever using the Town’s computer to access an internet psychic service, resulting in the computer catching a virus. She provided documentation showing that of eighteen invoices billed by Cyber Solutions, twelve were related to the police department, six to the Town Hall, and one of those was related to the virus.

She also stated that there was no policy prohibiting the personal use of the cell phones. She provided copies of Clardy’s and Barnes’ cell phone bills along with a copy of the policy and procedure manual.

Starnes did confirm that Barnes had showed a brief video clip on his PDA of the Mayor with a female clad only in her underwear in his lap.

On September 20, Josh Barnes was interviewed and also confirmed the PAD video clip of “a lap dance” by the unidentified female. He also stated that he knew of no policy that prevented such personal use of the device.

In separate interviews, four councilmen, David Harvell, Otis Scott, Greg Cole and Cecil Cothran, all stated that they were unaware of any criminal wrongdoing in relation to the Town’s financial condition.

Scott said that Middleton, Jr. was Clardy’s biggest critic and often made allegations without evidence. Harvell said that there was a “vendetta against the mayor, and a group that will settle for nothing less than having Clardy out of office.”

Michelle Starnes was so upset by a rumor that SLED was going to arrest her that she called the agent for clarification. The rumor began with Carthel Crout, who currently sits on the council. When questioned by the SLED agent, Crout said he may have made a statement to that effect but he didn’t remember if he did or not. He said he had often stated that she needed an attorney because he felt the Mayor would blame all the wrongdoings on Starnes. When asked to list some of the wrongdoings, he was unable to do so, saying that he got most of his information from the Middletons and Bennie Hyder.

 The entire case file, including information originally provided to SLED in 2004, is more than 2000 pages long. At the end of it, no criminal activity was discovered and no charges were filed.

Festival ride, run, draw record attendance

It might not have set a record in crowd attendance, but it possibly did for heat index.

Organizers of the 26th annual Spring Water Festival said the festival was a success, though hot humid temperatures and the threat of late afternoon thunderstorms may have kept some people away.

Chairman David Meade said crowd estimates from fire, police and other sources put attendance at about 6000 to 7000 people, down from the estimated 10,000 to 11,000 for last year. Those who came didn’t stay as long, Meade said.

Williamston Police Chief David Baker said that handicapped parking areas were not as full this year and that many of the festivals patrons, especially the elderly, may have stayed home and out of the heat.

Though overall attendance at the annual event may have been off a bit, those who did attend had plenty of activities, attractions and food to enjoy.

The Spring Water Run drew a record number of participants, with 169 runners participating in the 5K and 1 mile races, according to organizer, Chris Bradberry. “This was 50 more than last year,” he said. “I thought it went fantastic.” Bradberry said there were 144 finishers in the 5K race.

He thanked the sponsors, volunteers and spectators for making the race a success. “The Palmetto High AFJROTC was very helpful,” he added. Bradberry said there was a runner from the Netherlands and a couple from Mt. Pleasant who participated in this year’s run.

The first annual motorcycle bike ride and show also drew a large number of participants, with more than 40 bikes registered, according to co-organizers Todd Creamer and Catlin Tierce.

The bikes were lined up for a show on West Main St. as they returned from a ride that went through South Greenville and Anderson counties.

Craft Chair Ellen Harvell said that she was pleased with the variety and quality of the crafters.

Many of the craft vendors participated in a prize drawing by donating one item from their wares. The winner  was Debbie Duncan of Blacksburg. Harvell said several local vendors did very well.

“I was pleased to see we had a local vendor who was a first timer at a festival,that was successful,” Harvell said. “I look forward to making improvements for even a bigger and better festival next year. Thank everyone for coming and  bearing the weather.”

Food sales were steady, through most of the day, according to Food Chairman Jim Riddle. Riddle said the festival offered more variety than in past years.

Both stages also had  a steady crowd in attendance throughout the day. Many of those attending brought their own lawn chairs as they watched a variety of local performers.

One highlight was The Saluda River Catfish Band being joined on stage by recording artist Dana Russell, who some may know as an announcer on WLFJ radio.

Sherri Cole said the Little Miss Spring Water Pageant had 19 contestants and many family members and friends came out to watch the pageant on the Amphitheater stage. (See winners photos in this issue)

The car show was one of the largest, according to Steve Ellison and the 1936 Fire Truck was running with full loads of riders most of the day.

Surrounded by the many activities of the day, a special ceremony was held at 3 p.m. for the relocation of the 1976 time capsule to a new resting place in front of the Municipal Center.

Attending the ceremony were historian and author Gene Welborn and former Town Clerk Frances Wilson, who was clerk at the time it was first buried in 1976.

Also attending were Councilman Marion Middleton, Cheryl Middleton, Councilman David Harvell, Martha Jo Harvell, County Council District 7 representative Cindy Wilson, State House Representative Michael Thompson, town employees and others interested in seeing the capsule.

The sealed capsule is actually an infant burial vault and will not be seen again until it is dug up and opened in 2076. The new location is marked by the original plaque which designated the purpose and location when it was placed in the ground at the old city hall building 31 years ago.

A similar capsule is being put together by the Sesquicentennial Committee and will include a DVD video of the program held Saturday. It will be placed nearby on the Municipal Center grounds later this year, according to Mayor Phillip Clardy.

West Pelzer approves first budget reading

By Stan Welch

 The West Pelzer Town Council gave first reading approval to the 2007-08 budget Tuesday night. Councilman Marshall King was also elected mayor pro tem.

The budget, which will receive second reading at a special called meeting on September 20, reflects a new position for a part time court clerk, to assist in the new case administration program being implemented across the state. The position, which is being established as a part time position for now, will pay $13,000 a year. The new court administration program is aimed at linking all local courts into one statewide reporting system.

Another change in the budget is the expansion of contingency funds in the water and sewer departments. Previously funded at $5000 each, the contingency, or emergency, funds are now receiving an additional five percent of the total revenues received from water and sewer customers. A total of ten per cent of the $414,000 , or $41,400, was split equally between the two departments, adding $20,700 to each fund to be used in the event of major repairs or maintenance needs.

The Town’s sanitation fees will be adequate to pay for the contracted garbage pickup services, with no additional revenues left over. The budget also reflects salaries for three police officers, including Chief Wilson.

Total projected general fund revenues for the Town are $346,408. Administrative expenses, including salaries, insurance costs, are estimated at $68,759.64, with an additional $54,000 slated for administrative operating expenses. A $2000 contingency fund is also included in that figure.

The police department is budgeted for $125,217.24 in payroll, with approximately 30% of that figure dedicated to insurance costs and related expenses. Operating expenses for the department are budgeted at $52,420, with almost half that amount consigned to the state’s share of court fines generated by the Town court. Fuel, vehicle repairs and maintenance, and other items account for the remainder of the costs.

The general fund, with total revenues of $346,408, and total expenditures of $300,396.88, will produce a surplus of approximately $46,000. Those funds are available for use in possible capital improvement projects, such as an expansion or renovation of the Town Hall.

In the water department, combined billings for water and sewer services total $362,500. Additional sources of revenue, such as rural development fees, and sanitation fees, provide an additional $52,000 approximately. Projected payroll expenses for two employees, including all associated insurance, workmen’s compensation, state retirement, and health insurance costs, is $77,717.60.

Additional operating expenses, including maintenance and equipment costs, utilities, the newly increased contingency fund, and the $95,000 annual cost of actually purchasing water for resale to the Town’s customers, comes to $210,100. The sewer department expenses are projected at approximately $68.000.

The total amount available for possible capital improvement projects based on the complete budget is approximately $67,000.The public hearing and second reading of the budget will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday September 20.

Wren area grocery apparently on hold

By Stan Welch

Despite persistent rumors of a Food Lion supermarket being in the works, more than a year and a half after a transfer of sewer lines between School District One and Anderson County was approved in order to allow development of a shopping center in the Wren area, the site remains bare of any signs of progress.

In November of 2005, following more than a year of negotiations, The District One School Board unanimously approved transferring two pump stations and approximately 10,000 feet of sewer lines to the County. Dr. Wayne Fowler, District superintendent, said at the time that the transfer accomplished two things. “First, it got the school district out of the sewer business. We had built that system to serve Wren Elementary and Wren Middle Schools because there was no other system in place. Also, the transfer makes possible development in that area, which should be a benefit.”

The local isolated system remains the only sewer lines in the area.

Wes Nalley, of Nalley Construction Company, said at the time that there were no specific plans in place at that time to develop the property. Within weeks, however, substantial site preparation work was performed, clearing and grading part of the nineteen acre site, which is located at the corner of Highway 81 and Wren School Road. Since then, no other activity has taken place.

Calls to Mr. Nalley this week went unanswered.

The agreement called for the developer to upgrade one of the lift stations, and to perform maintenance on the other one. Once that was done, the County would accept the lines into its system and assume responsibility for them.

Anderson County Planning Director Jeff Ricketson indicated that the transfer had been accomplished, and that the County has provided Nalley with written confirmation that the site could tap onto the existing lines.

“We have given them that written acknowledgment, but we have received absolutely no plans for site work or construction. We hear the same rumors about Food Lions and Bloom’s and other stores that the public hears, but we have nothing from any developer concerning plans for that site,” said Ricketson this week.

District Six councilman Ron Wilson, whose election came after the transfer of the lines, said he understood that any such plans were on hold. “I have heard nothing about any movement on that site. What the developer’s plans are I can’t say. Of course, like everyone in that area, I would love to see a supermarket anchoring a shopping center on that corner.”

District One approves new personnel, changes

Anderson School District One Board of Trustees began discussion of a new building program and approved personnel recommendations during their meeting August 21.

The board also unanimously approved the extension of a lease already in place for property being used for ballfields by the Town of Williamston. The board unanimoulsy approved a 20 year lease with the town for $1. The agreement allows the town to request grant money for improvements, Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler said. The lease will end 2027.

The board also unanimously approved adopting a District Model for SACS Accreditation.

The new model for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools allows accredidation without having accreditors visit every school. According to Superintendent Fowler, 40 to 50 people are paid to come in and evaluate schools under the old plan. Under the new model, accreditors visit the district on one date and will choose 3 or 4 schools to visit.

The smaller teams will visit once every five years, saving “a lot of money,” assistant Superintendent David Havird said.

The board unanimously approved a request for two students to be homeschooled in association with the District. The option allows students instruction, credentials, curriculum and materials to receive a high school diploma in association with the District. PACT testing is also done with the District, Dr. Fowler said.

Board members heard a presentation by Dr. Fowler and M. B. Kahn Sr. Executive Vice President Rick Ott, that was “to begin discussion” about a District building plan.

Anderson District One is taking the first steps toward a building program that will possibly include a new elementary school, a new high school and additions to overcrowded schools, according to Dr. Fowler.

With student enrollment in the district increasing 3 to 4 percent each year, resulting in decreasing class room space and the use of portables this year,  Dr. Fowler said the district is outgrowing their last building program.

Upon the recommendation of Dr. Fowler, the board approved the following personnel:

Leave of absence - Danielle Bartal, Powdersville Elementary, Academic Assistance; Hilary Doermann, Palmetto Elementary, ELA.

Resignation - Jacque Stewart, Hunt Meadows Elementary, Kindergarten.

Retirement - Mitch Snead, Palmetto Middle, Physical Education.

Recommendations - Matthew Frazier, Palmetto Middle, Physical Education; Christina Ridgeway, Hunt Meadows Elementary, 5K Kindergarten; Hannah Titus, Hunt Meadows Elementary, Grade 1.

During their July 31 meeting, the following personnel recommendations were approved:

Request for leave - Kristi White, West Pelzer Elementary, Speech.

Transfers - Pat Jones, Wren Elementary,  Grade Two to Concrete Primary School, Guidance.

Resignations - Jodie Allmon, Wren Middle, Social Studies, Grade 6; Lindsey Flavell, Hunt Meadows Elementary, Grade One; Kim Groome, Concrete Primary, Guidance; Jennifer Schriver, Palmetto Elementary, Kindergarten; Keisha Witherspoon, Spearman Elementary, Kindergarten.

Recommendations - Allison Campbell, Palmetto Elementary, Kindergarten; Jana Craft, Wren Elementary, Grade One; Sybelle Franklin, Wren High, Spanish; Candice Hurley, Spearman Elementary, Kindergarten; Susan Valentino, Wren Middle, Science; Deonee Whaley, Wren Middle, Career Development Facilitator; Betsy Bryan, Wren Middle, Grade 6.

SAT scores rank District among top 5 in state

Anderson School District One SAT Scores for 2007 were among the State’s Best according to recent test result being released by 

Anderson One’s composite average of 1035 ranks the district as the 5th highest performing among South Carolina’s 86 districts. 

Students from both Palmetto High School and Wren High School  combined for the average that far exceeds the state overall results as well as the average score for seniors across the nation, officials said.

Though results were down slightly from last year, school officials said the number of students tested increased.  

Traditionally, as the number of test takers increases, scores tend to go down.  Though this is not always the case, it is one explanation for decreases among some of the state’s top scoring districts in this year’s report,

Nineteen districts across the state test a higher percentage than Anderson One, but only three of those districts report higher scores.  Anderson One seniors rank 6th in the state in the Critical Reading portion of the test, 4th in SC in the Math portion, and 9th in Writing.

Anderson One students exceeded the nation’s average in both Critical Reading and Math. 

“Overall, we have to be pleased with the effort put forth by this group of seniors on the SAT,” said John Pruitt, Director of Secondary Education for Anderson One.  “As with all other forms of testing, the SAT scores of a school and district vary from year to year.  The expectations of our parents, students, teachers, and communities are for Anderson One participants to be consistently among the best in the state.  Once again, through the efforts of all these stakeholders, Anderson One has a very favorable report,” Pruitt concluded.

Dr. Wayne Fowler, Superintendent of Anderson One stated, “Our students and teachers are to be congratulated on maintaining a standard of excellence on this national barometer.  Fairly or unfairly, the public often uses the SAT as a way of ranking school and district quality.  There certainly are a great number of ways to demonstrate a quality education with the SAT being just one of them.  That being said, we are quite pleased to be among the top districts in the state when assessing this test.  College acceptance and scholarships are very competitive in South Carolina.  Our students’ scores can help to assure them of continued success in these areas.”

Williamston police report

Williamston Police officers investigated the following incidents during the Month of August:

August 21 – Ptl. M.A. Semones, Jr. and Sgt. A. Digirolamo, Jr. stopped a white Chevy Blazer for doing 48 miles an hour in a 35 mile an hour zone. The driver, Jennifer L. Spagnualo, WF, 32, 5’11", 150 pounds, blond/blue, of 108 Crappie Dr., was driving under suspension. She was arrested and transported to WPD.

August 18 – Ptl. M.W. Ritter observed a vehicle that he knew to be driven by a suspect with a suspended license. He stopped the vehicle and found that David Wayne Blair, WM, 38, 5’7", 210 pounds, brn.brn, of 15 Ellison St., was driving under suspension (3rd offense). He was arrested and transported to WPD.

August 18 – Cpl. D.W. Bryant investigated a complaint of theft at 200 S. Hamilton St. Jamie Bratcher reported that someone had entered his carport and stole a chain saw and a grill. The loss was valued at $550.

August 17 – Ptl. Ritter conducted a traffic stop on a Lincoln Navigator with a paper out of state tag. The vehicle pulled into the Sav-Way and the passenger got out and went in the store. While speaking to the driver, Ritter saw an open beer can on the passenger’s side. When the passenger came out, Ritter smelled alcohol on his breath. The subject, Tomas Ferreira Herrara, WM, 40, 5’6", 175, blk/brn, of 41 Middleton Blvd, agreed to a search and began to empty his pockets. A rock of crack cocaine was in his pocket and he was arrested and transported to WPD.

August 15 – Ptl. M.A. Semones, Jr. and Cpl. D. W. Bryant responded to a two car accident at 307 E. Main St. They found that one of the drivers, Francisca Rodriguez, WF, 26, 5’2", 140 pounds, blk/brn, of 344 HI Taylor Rd. was driving without a driver’s license. She was arrested and transported to WPD.

August 14 - Michael Lee Patterson, 20, 12 Green St. Williamston, was arrested for driving under suspension after an officer heard loud music coming from his car on Greenville Dr. M. W. Ritter investigated.

Aug. 12 - James William Thomas, 24, 146 Dillard Road, Simpsonville, was arrested for simple possession of marijuana and driving under suspension 2nd offense, after a white Oldsmobile was observed turning right onto Greenville Drive from Hamilton St. while the traffice signal was still red. The intersection is marked no turn on red. Officers reported finding two plastic bags containing 10 grams of a substance believed to be marijuana. Sgt. A Digirolamo Jr investigated.

Aug. 12 - Mary Amanda Page, 27, 37 Knight St., Williamston, was arrested for durving under suspension after a burgandy Pontiac was observed driving on E. Main St. with no lights on. M. W. Ritter investigated.

Aug. 11 - Jorge Eugenio Guzman-Nieto, 39, 5132 Warner St. Forset Park , Ga., was arrested for no tag light, unsafe equipment and no drivers license after a vehicle was observed on Greenville Dr. with no tag light. The vehicle  had a cracked windshield. Sgt. M. D. Creamer investigated.

Aug. 11 - A passenger in a vehicle driven by Paul Travis Gossett, 21, 125 Hemlock Dr., Williamston, was arrested for simple possession of marijuana, and giving false information to officers after a gray vehicle driven by Gossett was observed on West Main St. with no headlights.

Reports state a clear plastic baggie containing 6.4 grams of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana was found in the front passenger door storage compartment. The passenger, Ginger Shennal Holdbrooks, 22, 508 Woodcock Rd., Pelzer was arrested for simple possession of marijuana and giving false information to officers. J. Digirolamo investigated.

Aug. 11 - Ovelrald Jarrell Arnold, 21, 7 Mattison St., Williamston, was arrested for simple possession of marijuana after being brought to the police department for booking. Officers found two baggies, one weighing 1.3 grams and one weighing .7 grams, with a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. D. E. Whaley investigated.

Aug. 9 - Miguel Mateo Diago, 7 Ellison St. , Williamston, was arrested for disorderly conduct after officers were dispatched to West 1st. St. in reference to an intoxicated man. M. W. Ritter, D. W. Bryant investigated.

Aug. 9 - Timothy Wayne Chastain, 17, 109 Briar Ridge West, Williamston, was arrested for disorderly conduct, concealed weapon and no tag light after a vehicle was observed on Jehue St. with no tag light. A knife with an overall length of 9 inches and a blade of 4 inches was found in his pocket. Sgt. M. D. Creamer investigated.

Aug. 8 - Irvin Roberto Jadri, 22, 143 Middleton Blvd. Apts, was arrested for speeding and no driving license after a 1998 Toyota Truck was observed on Ida Tucker Road travelling 46 mph in a  35 mph zone. Sgt. M. D. Creamer investigated.

Aug. 7 - Barry Knight of 803 North Hamilton St., Palmetto Middle School reported a NEC-VT-47 LCD valued at $750 removed from a classroom. Cpl. D. W. Bryant investigated.

Aug. 8 - Paul Michael Davis, 25, 110 Woodland Lane, Williamston, was arrested for open container in vehicle, outstanding bench warrant and failure to give proper signal after a vehicle was observed turning from Market St to Greenville Drive without a proper signal. Sgt. M. D. Creamer investigated.

Aug. 7 - Hardee’s, 1520 Anderson Dr., Williamston, reported someone passed a counterfeit $10 bill. A white male purchased two milk shakes for $5.78 and received $3.76 in change then left in a red SUV. The man was described as middle aged with graying hair, approximately 5’10” and 180 pounds. J. Digirolamo investigated.

Aug. 6 - Mario Antino Martinez, 39, Anita Court, Williamston, was arrested for no SC drivers license and operating an uninsured vehicle after a 1996 Toyota Corolla was observed on Anderson Dr. with one operating headlight. Sgt. M. D. Creamer investigated.

Driver reports being hit from behind on interstate

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated an incidnet in which a car was rammed on the Interstate 85 and another vehicle on blocks was stolen. The following incidents were reported:


August 11 – Deputy S.E. Mauldin responded to Cherokee Rd. where he received a report from fire fighters that Donald Burgess, WM, 74, of Liberty, had driven over a fire hose at the fire scene and damaged it. The fire was at the pallet recycling location. Burgess said that he didn’t know it would hurt to run over the hose, which was not charged at the time. Damages were estimated at $500 and the fire chief indicated he did wish to press charges. The case was to be presented to the magistrate.

August 12 – R.S. Thompson responded to 18 A River Street where he found Cynthia Davis shot through the instep of her left foot. She reported that she was cleaning out her tackle box and had dropped a small revolver which went off, shooting her in the foot. The revolver was a Burgo .22 short with one round fired. The Burgo has no transfer bar safety to prevent discharge if dropped. Davis was transported by Pelzer Rescue to AnMed for treatment.


August 9 – B.G. Hill was dispatched to 115 Jessie Dr. where Buddy Chavis reported the theft of his 1973 Porsche two seat coupe. The car was on blocks when stolen. It was yellow with a black top. The car was valued at $7500.

August 9 – B.G. Hill responded to 307 Irby Rd. where Lee Culler reported the theft of his sixteen foot Long haul trailer, which was loaded with old furniture. It was a dual axle and black.

August 12 – T.B. Dugan received a report from Angie Surratt, of Mauldin, that she had been rammed by a car on the interstate, which then pulled up and tried to run her off the road. After she pulled over and stopped, the car rammed her in the rear again, and continued to follow her until she feinted towards Exit 35 and then stayed on the interstate. The car, an older model 4 door white station wagon continued onto the exit. She described the driver as in his 50’s with white hair. Part of the SC tag read 474.

August 12 - S.E. Mauldin was dispatched to Hwys. 8 & 81 where he found Bradley Willis, WM, 18, 5’11", 145 , blk/brn walking along the highway. He was found to be intoxicated and was arrested for public disorderly conduct.


August 11 – T.B. Dugan responded to 826 Joe Black Rd. where Jesus Martinez reported that three males had come to his door and asked for beer. When he refused them, one pulled a gun and pointed it at his head. He then grabbed Martinez’ wallet and fled with one of the other suspects across a field. The third suspect ran across the street to a trailer at Lot #7 and went inside.

August11 – G. T. Cope received a report from Mike Lewallen that his golf clubs and bag were stolen from his truck while he was at the Saluda Valley Country Club. His watch was also in the bag and was stolen. The total loss was estimated at $3700.


August 11 – K.D. Pigman was dispatched to Horace Bell Rd. in response to a report of a possible break-in. As he approached, a white VW Cabrio left the scene. He pursued it for several minutes before the driver ran it into the woods and fled on foot. Pigman held the two passengers at gunpoint until help arrived. The two passengers, Lisa Caudell and Bailey Watson both identified Kenneth Beasley Jr., WM, 35, 5’11", 200 pounds, with grey hair and blue eyes as the driver. A search of a vehicle found a substance that tested as methamphetamine. Caudell was charged with possession of that substance. Warrants were also issued on Beasley for DUS and failing to stop for a blue light.

August 15 – C. Whitfield responded to 1611 Highway 252 where Amanda Newton said that Paul Abercrombie, WM, 43, 5’8", 210, blond/blue from Hartwell GA, had threatened her. She said he had come to retrieve a four wheeler which she was behind on the payments for. He threatened her when she said that he wasn’t supposed to be there without a deputy present. He had missed an earlier appointment to meet a deputy there and retrieve his vehicle. He was arrested and charged with simple assault and trespass after notice and transported to ACDC.

August 15 – R.D. Smith received a report at the ACSO office from David Graddy, of Williamston. Graddy said he owns some land on Browning Rd. where he stored vehicles and other items. He reported the theft of three vehicles and a set of aluminum wheels. He later found the vehicles at Main Street Motors in Pelzer, but they had been crushed for scrap. The owners of Main St. Motors said their video shows the suspects bringing the cars in.

Horses seized

On Friday August 24 Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies acting on a court order, seized 11 horses located at 117 Wells Circle in Townville.

On August 10 Donna Spearman, of the same address, was cited for Ill Treatment of Animals. She is scheduled to appear in Summary court on September 9. A court hearing determined that the horses would remain in the custody of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office for 30 days.

Volunteers with The  Palmetto Equine Awareness and Rescue League (PEARL) Organization responded to the property and aided the Sheriff’s Office with the seizure of the horses. PEARL will continue to care for the horses for the remainder of the time they are the custody of the sheriff’s office.

PEARL, a 501 C-3 organization, is in need of items to care for the horses including halters, lead lines, feed pans and most importantly quality Coastal hay. Seminole Feeds has donated feed for the horses for the next 30 days. In addition, they have offered to feed any horse seized by the Sheriff’s Office in the future for a 30 day time period. Tax deductible donations are being accepted and may be mailed to: PEARL, PO Box 362, Sandy Springs, SC 29677. Anyone wanting to donate hay may contact PEARL at (864) 287-8890 for arrangement of delivery.

The incident remains under investigation.

Limited edition paper weights offered

The West Allen Williams Memorial Committee is offering a very special limited edition paper weight.

The paper weights are cut from white marble obtained from the Samuel Williams home site, with the Williamston emblem embedded in the center. It is showcased in a glass case on a wood look base. Each piece is numbered and will come with a limited edition card and history.

Ten of the 21 pieces being made available were reserved during the Spring Water Festival. The remaining 11 are available for $100 each. Proceeds from the paper weights will be placed in a perpetual fund for care and upgrades to the town founder’s memorial site.

The WAWMC is a non-profit group under the auspices of the Williamston Area Historic Commission.

The committee is also offering the community the opportunity to sponsor a brick in memory or in honor of a loved one. The bricks were made by hand from mud along the Saluda River in the early 1800s for Samuel Williams, father of Williamston’s founder, West Allen  Williams. They will be included as a part of the West Allen Williams Memorial site. One brick can be reserved for a donation of $30 or five for $100 donation.

A plaque will be placed at the memorial site with the honored person’s name engraved on it. For more information on either item, call Anne Earnest at 864-847-5384 or Anne McClellion at 864-847-9196.

Block party planned for Labor Day Cycling Championships

Organizers of The 2007 Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships have announced plans for a “Championship Block Party” as part of the Labor Day weekend festivities. The event will be held from 6:00-10:00pm on Saturday, September 1st on the Hyatt Plaza Deck on the 200 block of Main Street in downtown Greenville. Main Street Events, Inc. will produce the free event that is open to the public.

The “Championship Block Party” is presented by Mylestones ( and Dasani. The party will kick off at 6 pm and end at 10 pm. “Chocolate Thunder” ( will start the live entertainment (6-7:30pm) with her dynamic blues sound. The “Southern Crescent Band” ( will follow with the best party band in the region, playing a wide variety of sounds and classics from 8-10 pm.

The Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships continue the following day. The Palmetto Peloton Project will hold its third annual, fundraiser bicycle ride, “Stars and Stripes Challenge” from 7 a.m. to Noon. Along South Main Street in downtown Greenville, race fans can enjoy the Health and Wellness Expo presented by Greenville Hospital System, open from 11a.m. to 6 p.m. Interactive exhibits, food and beverage tents, and awards stage. Over 100 professional cyclists will compete for the national Road Race championship beginning at 1 p.m. from Broad and Main streets. This race was won by George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) last year. Over 70,000 spectators are expected for weekend racing and festivities.

For more information on the Championship Block Party and the Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships, visit

The North Carolina/South Carolina State Championships will also be held this weekend and will take place in the Fork Shoals area of Southern Greenville County. Parking for the event will be at the Fork Shoals School on McKelvy Rd. just off Fork Shoals Road. For more information visit

Clemson readies for Monday game

Sunday may seem like a Friday this year at Clemson, at least for the first football game of the 2007 season. 

Clemson will open the season against Florida State in a game that will be played Monday, Sept. 3. The First Friday Parade will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday.

The parade will run on S.C. 93 from the intersection with Cherry Road near the President’s Home to the intersection with Williamson Road. 

Tying in with the game against the Seminoles, the theme for the parade is “Reigning Over the Sunshine State.” The parade will feature colorful floats built by sororities as well as the Tiger Band, the cheerleaders and Rally Cats, the Tiger and Tiger Cub mascots, Miss First Friday and more.

The parade will be led by grand marshal Jeff Davis, assistant athletic director of major events. Davis was an All-American linebacker for the Tigers from 1978 to 1981 and played on Clemson’s national championship team. He returned to Clemson as field director for Call Me MISTER, where he helped the program gain national recognition.

A pep rally will follow the parade on Riggs Field before the men’s soccer game against Gardner-Webb. 

At Littlejohn Coliseum, fans can dance the night away at Tiger Shag. Gates for this outdoor beach music concert open at 2 p.m. with the show starting at 4 p.m. The show will feature General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, the East Coast Band and the Out of Towners.

The day also will include a classic car show on Centennial Boulevard, games and inflatables and shag demonstrations from local shag clubs. A fireworks display at 10:30 p.m. will wrap up the festivities.

Tickets for Tiger Shag are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the show and are available at the Littlejohn Coliseum box office, TicketMaster outlets or online at Fans at the show will be issued wrist bands so they can leave the show and re-enter if they wish to attend the parade, soccer game or pep rally.

Lawn chairs and blankets are permitted at the show, but coolers and outside food and drinks are not allowed.

Seems to Me . . .The past vs. the future

By Stan Welch

 It is impossible to read the recently released summary of the findings of a SLED investigation into whether or not Mayor Phillip Clardy misused his position without seeing a clear pattern of persistence and retribution in the acts of those who fed the investigation, not once, but twice.

Much of the same ground covered by a group of “concerned citizens” during the most recent investigation was already covered in 2004, when many of the same citizens were also “concerned” about the Mayor’s conduct. SLED investigated then, and found nothing worth taking action over.

SLED is probably thinking it would be cheaper to open a branch office in Williamston than keep running up and down the road every couple of years, when the political pot boils over and another round of allegations begin.

So after the third SLED investigation in less than eight years, including, of course, the one that sent Marion Middleton, Sr. to jail for a few weeks, the Town’s reputation is just a bit more tarnished, and not one thing was accomplished.

Well, let me take that back. The names of some town employees got bandied about, with all sorts of rumors about who was going to jail. People were accused of illicit affairs with their superiors, and were all but convicted in the court of public opinion for stealing thousands and thousands of taxpayers’ dollars.

The only problem is that none of that happened. No employees were charged, none were found to have entered into improper affairs with subordinate or superior employees, or others for that matter.

Those thousands and thousands of dollars? Turns out they were squandered, not stolen. After months and months of investigation, SLED decided that Bob Daniel and Joe Newton were right after all.

It was incompetence, mismanagement and hubris which cost the people of Williamston all that money. Of course, having no sanitation fees and a tax rate at least ten years behind the times didn’t help any.

But, hey, finger pointing is a lot more fun than taking actual stock of the situation, right? A close examination of the problem might reveal that all the energy spent in recriminations and charges and countercharges over the last four years should have been put into producing policies and procedures that would define what a Mayor can and can’t do; because of all the things the Town of Williamston doesn’t have, a logical, orderly set of laws, policies and procedures for running the Town is at the top of the list.

Phillip Clardy came to office after defeating a mayor who had held office for more than twenty years. That mayor was Marion Middleton, Sr. Marion Middleton Sr. ran Williamston pretty much the way he wanted to during his terms as mayor. The Council he sat in command of was much like the first Council Phillip Clardy sat with. They were casual in the performance of their duties, and perfectly willing to be uninformed, or even misinformed.

Middleton, Sr. was a strong figure and he had little trouble in having his way in most matters that came before the Council. There was no real need for policies and procedures because they were pretty much what Middleton, Sr. said they were.

When Clardy finally upset Middleton, Sr., a mill hill boy beating the old lion, it didn’t set well with a lot of folks. Then, when Clardy set in to work on Middleton’s legacy, things turned ugly. SLED came to town then too. Even today, years later, there are those who say Middleton, Sr. got off easy, while others hate Clardy for his actions, and show no signs of tempering that hatred. Two choirs singing relentlessly to themselves makes for ugly music.

A funny thing happened though. Once SLED had left and Marion Middleton Sr. was disgraced, Mayor Clardy took a close look at the lack of structure in the town government, and he saw that it was good.

Why, if there are no laws, there are no crimes! If there are no rules, there are no rule breakers. If there are no policies or procedures, there are no consequences for ignoring them. And this is what SLED and Joe Newton and Bob Daniel all tried to tell us.

Even now, the policies and procedures in this town are next to worthless. Oh, there have been a few changes made, a milk tooth or two put into the jaws of the laws.

But is there anything in place clear enough and strong enough to keep the same mismanagement and carelessness and self-serving behavior from bringing the town right back to the brink of disaster?

More importantly, does anyone care? For two years this most recent battle has raged, this fight over the past at the expense of the future. So senseless, so mindless has the fight become that this town had to hold a yard sale to pay its bills. It was a desperate measure under desperate circumstances. The Council and Mayor deserve credit for having the strength to do a hard thing, I guess. But they cannot escape the responsibility for the sorry circumstances that made it necessary.

Let’s not kid ourselves, alright? Marion Middleton Jr. and Phillip Clardy are never going to be friends or even political allies. Councilman Middleton clearly resents Clardy’s role in his father’s downfall, and is just as obviously positioning himself to run for mayor next year. Carthel Crout seems to have aligned himself against the mayor as well, if his tone during the Council meetings is any clue. He may also be considering a run for mayor.

Councilman Scott is generally considered a supporter of Mayor Clardy, although some recent actions would call into question just how solidly he is in the Clardy camp. Scott’s recent health issues will hopefully not hamper his recent efforts on behalf of the town, both in championing the hospitality tax and in pursuing funds for roads within the town. Councilman Harvell seems content to come to meetings and quietly do his job, a refreshing attitude to say the least.

The question is can Williamston survive fourteen more months of finger pointing and allegations, regardless of where they originate? Can this Council, with this Mayor, find a way to do their jobs without all this senseless bickering? Can the past be made subservient to the future?

Seems to me they better decide pretty soon. Or the voters will decide for them.







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