News Archive

(3606) Week of Sept. 6, 2006

Williamston Council goes against advice to raise taxes
Citizens continue with comments
Restrictions proposed before any tax increase
Host fees reflect more out of county garbage
Plans announced for County expansions
Thief hits sheriff
Deputies investigate thefts
Upstate hosts national cycling championships
Hincapie wins USA Cycling Championship
Seems to Me . . . It’s time to quit

Council goes against advice to raise taxes

Going against the advice of the their financial advisors, Williamston Town Council decided Tuesday not to implement a tax increase for the citizens of the town. The decision came after considerable discussion and weeks of receiving comments from the public.

During their meeting, which was held on the deadline for submitting the town’s tax levy rate to the county auditor, Williamston Town Council voted 4-1, with Mayor Phillip Clardy opposed, to leave the town’s tax rate levy for the 2007 budget at the current 106 mills.

The decision not to increase taxes was made citing a lack of trust of the Council by citizens and the mayor’s past performance with the town’s finances, according to comments made by Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. during the meeting.

In doing so, Council went against the advice of the town’s financial advisor Bob Daniel and Appalachian Council of Governments (ACOG) advisor Joe Newton.

Mayor Clardy made it clear that he supported the recommendations by Newton and Daniel, to raise the tax millage rate by 20 percent while making some adjustment in the $14 per month sanitation fee.

“For nearly one year we have entrusted two individuals for a road to recovery and discussed an anticipated tax increase,” Clardy said. “We have listened and followed their advice, making substantial cuts and imposed fees they felt were necessary in doing so. They have not chosen sides.”

The final vote on the proposed tax increase came after considerable discussion on budget and spending controls proposed by Councilman Middleton and other recommendations made by Newton.

Newton expressed concerns about the proposed restrictions which he said “might stop bills from being paid or slow down payments.”

He said he supported the restrictions but suggested the town look at the requirement of signatures and requisitions.

“You don’t want legitimate processes to stop while you are putting the controls on,” he said.

Newton said that the budget line items are basically setting a cap.

Middleton had proposed two councilmen sign checks and the other two sign off on  requisitions.

“The reason for that is to get us all involved,” Middleton said. “The level of trust for council is zip.”

The issue of trust continued to come up during the meeting, primarily in comments made by Middleton.

Council unanimously agreed to accept the discussion as information and to revisit the topic of controls at the next meeting of Council, on Monday, Sept. 11.

To place the tax increase on the floor for initial discussion, Councilman Middleton made a motion to entertain a tax levy at the current rate of 106 mills.

Citing a lack of trust by citizens in the town government,  Middleton suggested 5 mill increase and possibly a $2 reduction in the sanitation fee, with the 5 mil increase going directly to a contingency fund.

“We can operate without the money but we can’t without the trust of the people,” Middleton said.

“I do feel this council has to earn your trust,” Middleton said to the audience, stating he would like to keep the millage where it is until the end of the year, then look at the figures at the end of January to “make sure what has happened in the past doesn’t happen again.”

Councilman Greg Cole asked Newton if there was a compromise between the sanitation fees and increasing the millage.

Newton responded, “My feeling is the town is in trouble and needs to get out of trouble. If it was my household, I would bite the bullet and fix it.”

 Newton recommended a cut in the sanitation fees and keeping the proposed 20 percent increase in the taxes. He said his recommendation included  giving half of the tax increase back in the form of a fee cut and putting the rest in the bank, “with a pledge to drop back next year as much as you can.”

Clardy said he recommended following the advice of the auditor and Newton for a 127 mill tax levy, a reduction of the sanitation fee from $14 to $10, restricting the fund and to seek a part-time administrator.

Before the vote, Clardy said “Either we trust them (the advisors)  or we do not. Our actions will prove our trust. I support the advice of our auditors and of Newton with the suggestion of reducing the (sanitation) fee to $10 which will have less impact to our elderly.”

Middleton again said he wanted to provide “accountability to the people of our town” and suggested a 5 mill increase as reasonable until the town had numbers available by January 31.

Councilman Scott made a motion to go to 120 mills, but didn’t get a second and the motion was lost in discussion.

The motion made by Councilman Middleton, to raise the tax levy by 5 mills was defeated 3-2 with Councilmen David Harvell, Otis Scott and Mayor Clardy opposed.

Council then voted 4-1, with the mayor opposed, on a motion to leave the rate at the current 106 mills.

Council then went into executive session to discuss a personnel issue involving hiring a person in the street department immediately and another by Nov. 1.

Council then approved naming a foreman up to a certain salary and hiring of two people in the street department up to a certain salary.

Citizens continue with comments

Williamston Town Council heard comments from several residents before taking a vote Tuesday not to increase taxes funding the 2007 budget.

Gary Bannister asked Council not to pass a tax increase and to keep the fees as they are. He said that even with limits on spending, it doesn’t stop the mayor from spending as he sees fit. Bannister cited the current form of Government the town operates under, strong mayor/weak council, determines what the mayor can do.

Jan Dawkins asked Council to open the session for questions and answers, which they did. There were then discussions about the strength of a resolution as compared to an ordinance and what happens if not followed though.

Town Attorney Richard Thompson said that the council and mayor’s number one job is complying with the budget ordinance as written, which he said makes the mayor and council do what they should be doing.

Thompson and ACOG advisor Joe Newton both basically said that an elected official will not go to jail if not in compliance with the budget ordinance.

John Brannon asked Council to appropriate a portion of a recent grant from Sen. O’Dell to be used for wiring for the Depot which is being renovated. Brannon said the project needs about $6000 for necessary wiring.

Tim Cox asked, “What’s to protect us to make sure everything gets paid?”

He suggested the town should look at raising other fees including rental fees for weddings and other events at the municipal center and park shelter rental fees. “Every little bit helps,” he said.

Willie Wright proposed not more that a 10 percent increase in the tax rate with a one year limit and suggested the budget have more cuts.

Doris Cole praised the volunteers who organized the Spring Water Festival and said “It had the flavor of the whole community.” She said it was a difference of opinion that a person was hired to coordinate the festival and other events by the town in the past.

“We have a history of a mayor who doesn’t make wise decisions,” she said. “I don’t see how we cannot raise taxes.” “I don’t think we have any more control now than over the last five years,” she added.

Glenn Purvine stated that a proposed $1 salary for the mayor is way too much. “There should be no pay, no benefits till they get this mess straightened out,” he said.

Purvine also blamed the state laws for not having penalties on elected officials who create a financial mess similar to Williamston’s. “State legislators allow this to happen,” he said. “If you want that fixed, talk to your state legislators,” Purvine told the audience.

Restrictions proposed before any tax increase

By Stan Welch

The drum beat for accountability by and fiscal control of Mayor Phillip Clardy’s administration continued at last Thursday’s  (Aug. 31) Council meeting.

For the third time in a week, a stream of citizens came to the podium to demand that Council and the Mayor conduct the Town’s business responsibly. After a fairly brief public input session, the Council moved to the consideration of several issues before them. First, they voted unanimously to dissolve the position of street department head, a position recently vacated by the retirement of David Doc Roberts, who left due to health reasons.

As a follow up to that, Council then discussed whether to create a foreman/worker position, thereby lowering the level of supervision somewhat, while incorporating a higher level of hands on participation into the job. Councilman Otis Scott made a motion to establish such a position, and Mayor Clardy seconded the motion. Councilman David Harvell asked how the salary for the position would be determined, and suggested an executive session to discuss the matter. That was deferred until a later meeting, since the position had to be approved first. Council established the position by a unanimous vote.

The purpose of making the changes in the management structure of the department was to utilize the funds freed up by Roberts’ early retirement in order to address the shortage of workers in that department. Council next considered the question of how many workers to hire and when to hire them.

A suggestion to hire one employee immediately, and to follow that up with a second hiring in November, had been informally discussed for several weeks, and was formalized in a motion by Councilman Harvell, and seconded by Councilman Scott.

Councilman Greg Cole asked whose responsibility it would be to hire the new workers, and was told the Mayor would have the responsibility. The Mayor stated that he would follow John Owen’s recommendations.

Owen, who is currently overseeing the undermanned department, seems likely to be named foreman. He said that the hires would allow a greater effort to pick up limbs and other debris still left over from last winter’s ice storm. “It will let some of our guys take some vacation time and comp time, too,” said Owens. Following the Mayor’s assurances that he would keep Council informed about the hirings, they voted unanimously to approve the motion.

Council then moved to an agenda item directly concerned with placing additional controls on the Mayor and his ability to spend money. A resolution prepared by councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. consisted of two parts. One was a list of budgetary measures that would severely restrict the Mayor’s access to funds and his ability to move them from one account to another. The measures also call for a revision of the current budget within sixty days, apparently to better reflect a significant increase in revenues brought about by several measures enacted by Council and the Mayor in recent months.

The budgetary restraints would also include a provision that any tax increase will go into a certificate of deposit, (CD) in a local bank. Thereafter, twenty per cent of tax revenues would be deposited weekly into that CD. Four members of Council would have to approve any transfer of funds out of the CD.

The second part of Middleton’s proposal was in the form of a Town purchasing policy. Key among the provisions is one that would require a purchase order for every purchase, regardless of amount. Non-emergency purchases would require the purchase order to be signed by the Mayor, the requesting department head and two members of Council.

Upon being presented for payment, the check will be signed by the Mayor or the Clerk, and the two Council members who did not sign the purchase order.

One week, Wards One and Three will sign purchase orders, while Two and Four sign checks. The next week, the Councilmen will switch roles, with Two and Four signing purchase orders. That policy would seem to insure that all five members of Council sign off on every purchase.

The proposal will also require weekly reports on checks and purchase orders written, as well as a weekly budget report for each of the Town’s accounts.

Emergency purchases by department heads, according to the proposal, would come from $250 cash emergency funds that each department head would have. ACOG representative Joe Newton expressed some concerns about that aspect of the proposal. “People will feel, and rightly so, that those are slush funds. I’m not sure about the legality of a couple items, but the proposal looks like it can be tweaked a bit and be fine. The emergency funds, I’m not so sure of.”

Considerable discussion of the resolution followed, with Mayor Clardy asking for a delay in implementation to allow staff and the Town attorney to review it. “Staff will have to implement these things, and they should have a say.”

Middleton stated clearly, “There will be no revenue increase without this. Control and accountability are the keys. We owe it to these people to let them know we are putting controls in place. Staff input is fine, but it is our responsibility.”

Newton defused the situation, recommending that the Council adopt the resolution and make any amendments needed to it at the next meeting (Tuesday Sept 6 - see seperate story).

By that time, the original motion had been amended three times, and Council wiped the slate clean, withdrawing all previous motion and amendments. A motion was then made that the resolution be adopted, to go into effect on September 6,with possible amendments to be made then. The motion passed unanimously.

Council also voted to appropriate $2500 to the Cemetery Committee to erect a lighted flagpole at the cemetery. The motion, unanimously approved, also froze the remaining funds in the grant being used until a further and more accurate estimate of the costs could be obtained.

Council then adjourned.

Host fees reflect more out of county garbage

By Stan Welch

Anderson Regional Landfill, LLC continues to receive more than twice as much mainstream solid waste from outside Anderson County than it does from inside.

A review of the host fees paid by Allied Waste, Inc. to the County, obtained by The Journal through the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, reveals that in none of the ten quarterly reports obtained did that trend falter.

It is the host fee paid for that out of county, or imported, garbage that generates the bulk of the host fees paid by ARL,LLC to the County under the terms of the sale of the old Big Creek Landfill to Allied Waste, Inc., which then formed ARL,LLC to operate the facility.

Since the first quarter of the year 2004, the host fees have totaled $1,394,788.29, or an average of approximately $139,000 per quarter.

Despite those contributions, it was recently reported that the Anderson County Solid Waste Department has a $500,000 budget deficit.

Environmental Services Director Victor Carpenter, when asked a question concerning an underreported amount elsewhere in the reports, said he too had noticed the discrepancy, adding, “That money never comes to us. We just see the accounting for the funds. But the money goes straight downtown.”

The figures also reveal a steady increase in total tonnage being disposed of throughout 2004 and most of 2005, when the trend reverses, and the total amounts begin to decline. Starting at just over 81,000 tons received in the first three months of 2004, the amounts climber steadily to a fairly constant level in the area of 92,000 tons by the end of the year.

In 2005, the first quarter figures dipped slightly to just under 87,000 tons, before rebounding to almost 98,000 tons in the following quarter. The third quarter in 2005 saw a reported 91,388 tons brought in, but there was an unexplained plunge to just 57,000 tons in the last quarter. That may be accounted for by a bookkeeping error, since the fourth quarter report shows zero tonnage for October. Still, the host fees paid figure also reflects the absence of October statistics, showing that only $87,219.49 was paid in fees for that quarter.

The reports also indicate that far more special waste is imported into Anderson County than originates here. Special waste is waste  which requires, by law, special handling. It may be asbestos shingles from an old building, or something similar. Carpenter stressed that  “It is not hazardous waste or medical waste. It’s not some radioactive sludge or something. For example, special waste can’t be accepted at the Starr landfill. It has to go to ARL at the Big Creek site.”

In the months reported, the difference between imported special waste and that which originates in the county ran the gamut from twice as much to forty times as much. The host fee paid for imported special waste is $2.26 per ton, while in county waste is billed at half that amount, $1.13 per ton.

The rate for the host fee on mainstream solid waste (MSW) from outside the county varies from $2.21 to $2.38 per ton.

The Anderson Regional Landfill was originally the Big Creek landfill, which was sold to Allied Waste, Inc. for $1.2 million in1997. Within a few years, the corporation sought and obtained a permit for lateral expansion, despite the organized and determined efforts of the residents who lived around the facility. Allied Waste, Inc, finally settled a lawsuit with those residents, agreeing among other things, to pay them a royalty on all garbage disposed of there.

Recently, some residents have begun to complain that the roads in the area have been badly degraded despite what they claim were the company’s commitments to keep the roads in good repair.

Plans announced for County expansions

By Stan Welch

Tuesday night, County Administrator Joey Preston presented his plan to address the issues of overcrowding at the county jail, as well as security and safety issues at the courthouse. That plan, with a $7.3 million price tag, would include the purchase and renovation of two existing buildings, as well as the construction of a new dormitory at the detention center.

A former Kroger grocery store, containing more than 47,000 square feet, would house the offices of the assessor, the treasurer, the auditor, and the register of deeds, all of which currently occupy space in the new courthouse, as well as building and codes, E911 addressing, development standards, buildings and grounds and the county mailroom. Once those offices are relocated, says Preston, the appropriate security measures can be installed in the courthouse.

The cost of that building, located at 401 E. River Street, would be $1.3 million, with another $3.7 million slated for renovations, for a total of $5 million.

The second building which Preston proposes purchasing, is the old Piedmont Natural Gas offices located at 2404 N. Main St. The building, containing more than 25,000 square feet, would be used to house all the state offices currently occupying the Bailes Building, right behind the historic court house.

Those offices would include the legislative delegation offices, registration and elections, veteran’s affairs, and summary court. The cost of the building is $1.6 million, which has been obtained through a state grant secured by State Representative Dan Cooper and Kevin Bryant.

According to Preston, once the state offices are relocated to the second building, the Department of Juvenile Justice and Pre Trial Intervention offices will be moved into the Bailes Building.

The final phase of the plan would involve either the construction of a new dormitory containing 50 beds at the county detention center, or the upgrading of the old National Guard Armory building. Construction of the new dormitory is estimated at more than $900,000.

District Seven County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson had various reservations about how the proposal would be handled, while conceding that  “There is much of merit in this proposal.” Chief among her concerns was the peremptory manner in which the information was provided. She stated that she had received the first version of the resolution which would initiate the process of issuing the general obligation bonds next year only late Monday afternoon. Another version was provided Tuesday, with what Wilson described as substantial changes.

She also questioned who the agents and brokers were who were involved in the transactions. Preston responded that Marshall Carrithers was the agent involved with the Kroger building, while Carl Edwards of Allied Realty was the agent involved with the PNG building.

Speaking after the meeting, Wilson described Carrithers as “the county real estate agent”, a reference to several major transactions he has been involved with the County on. Among them were the leasing of the old Lowe’s building by the SCNG, a deal that Joey Preston helped put together. Carrithers owns the building, and receives several hundred thousand dollars a year in rent. Carrithers also received a consulting fee in excess of $60,000 involving the purchase of a tract of land by the County on the Saluda River in Powdersville last year.

 That property is slated for the Dolly Cooper Park, as well as a recycling center. Wilson referred to that purchase as a “bait and switch”. “This courthouse security issue was supposed to be our big priority 12 –18 months ago, but our administrator pulled a bait and switch, and used the money to buy this land on the Saluda and to do the Stitchery and Art Center projects instead. Now, suddenly, we have to rush into this purchase. This is ten million dollars worth of debt.”

Wilson was referring to an additional $2.7million in special source revenue bonds sought by Preston to complete the latest phase of the Beaverdam sewer project. She has consistently opposed that project in all its phases. One objection has been her often stated opinion that there simply aren’t enough users on the line to make it self-supporting, a legal requirement for an enterprise fund. She repeated her claims Tuesday night that the sewer fund was in debt and has been consistently for several years.

She made a motion to accept Preston’s proposal as information and to also discuss it at a special called meeting that was scheduled earlier in the meeting to allow for further discussion of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) presented to the Council by ACOG representative Steve Pelissier. Councilman McAbee seconded the motion reluctantly, but it was defeated by a 1-6 vote. The resolution was then approved by a 6-1 vote with Wilson opposing.

The resolution was followed by first reading approval of the ordinance, starting a process that will allow the Council to spend monies but later be reimbursed upon issuance of the general obligation bonds. Final approval will require three hearings of an ordinance which will authorize issuance and sale of the bonds. A public hearing will also be held at the next Council meeting on September 19.

Wilson again challenged the Council’s decision to approve the ordinance without further discussion or investigation. Holding up a single sheet of paper containing the proposed ordinance, she said, This is all we have to vote on, a vote that will place another $7.3 million in debt on this County. Who in their right minds would vote on this under these conditions?”

Councilman Greer, describing the ordinance as “clearly a reimbursement ordinance”, asked if it in fact allowed for monies to be spent prior to the final adoption of the ordinance. Upon learning that it did, he moved to amend the ordinance to prohibit any expenditures prior to final approval. The amendment clearly surprised and displeased Preston, who told Greer, “We have certain things we have to do to move forward. I would certainly hope that you would not pass this amendment tonight. Any monies spent are coming out of budgeted funds.”

Greer responded that the ordinance would authorize expenditure of a million dollars before the ordinance was fully approved. Wilson chimed in that “The administrator has just admitted that he has engaged an architect.”

Greer, despite additional opposition form Preston, held his ground and called for a vote on the amendment. It was defeated 2-5 with Wilson joining in the opposition vote.

The ordinance was then approved by a 5-2 vote. 

A separate ordinance to provide for the issuance of the $2.7 million in special source revenue bonds was approved 6-1, with Wilson the lone opposition. “There simply aren’t enough users long the lines to repay this money, “she said.

Thief hits sheriff

A thief with more nerve than sense struck in Pendleton last week, breaking into Anderson County Sheriff David Crenshaw’s garage and stealing several hundred dollars worth of lawn care equipment.

According to an incident report on file at the ACSO, the theft occurred on August 31. J.M. Perry was called to the residence at 311 Greenville Street, in Pendleton, where Crenshaw reported that he had been called and told that his garage door was slightly open.

He went to his home to investigate and found that a gas powered hedge trimmer and assorted hand tools were missing. No prints were found by the investigating officer. Sheriff Crenshaw said he would provide the serial number from the trimmer, and was told to contact the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

The ACSO provides police services for the Town of Pendleton, and assumed the duties several weeks ago, when the Pendleton Town council voted to dissolve their department as a cost saving measure.

Deputies investigate break-ins

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated several thefts and other incdents in the area recently. Among incidents reported were:

EASLEY

Aug. 22 – T.L. Chapman received a complaint of grand larceny auto from Mike McGee at 917 Old Pendleton Rd. McGee reported the theft of a 2005 white Yamaha four wheeler. It’s an 80cc Raptor model valued at $2500.

PELZER

Aug. 22 – M.D. Looney received a complaint of injury to property from Patricia Edens, of 428 Joe Black Rd. Edens reported that someone had damaged the base charger to her electric fence. Nothing was taken and no other damage was done.

Aug. 22 – T.B. Dugan responded to the Cutshaw Café at 184 Richardon Dr. where Angie Cutshaw reported that Loretta Loveland, a former owner of the restaurant, had been coming by and causing trouble ever since Cutshaw took over. Loveland, 34 WF, 240 Addison Circle, was placed on trespass notice, along with two other subjects, who were not identified.

PIEDMONT

Aug. 22 – W. E. Gregory responded to Hickory Point convenience store at 1101 Anderson St. where Dana Shaw reported that his dark blue 1993 Chevy S-10 Blazer was stolen while he was inside paying for gas. Two white males with shaved heads drove the car,which had the keys in it, off. The SC tag # was 846-MSR.

Aug. 23 – J. M. Roberts responded to CVS Pharmacy at 1090 Anderson Road where Heather Moore reported that a black male between 60-65 had gone into the bathroom and then left the store. Two empty boxes of Pepsid AC were found in the bathroom. The store scanner showed they had not been purchased.

WILLIAMSTON

Aug. 23 – D. Munger responded to Wesley Ellison Road, where Susan Mullinax reported that the daughter of her recently deceased common law spouse had been camping on her property since the death of the father. She reported that Donna Ellison had placed a five gallon bucket with what appeared to be a marijuana plant in it down by the pond. Munger spoke with Ellison and discovered the bucket with the plant in it. Ellison admitted she was growing it and was arrested for manufacturing marijuana.

Aug. 23 – M. D. Creamer received a report of injury to real property from John Layne who reported that someone had cut a fence of his along a tract of land where juveniles like to ride four wheelers.

PELZER

Aug. 18 – T. B. Dugan responded to Bi-Lo, 330 Lebby St., where William Paul Tench, WM, 25, 5’10", 220 pounds, of Belton,was arrested for shoplifting. Tench, who worked at the store, was videotaped taking a beer from the beer aisle, then drinking it outside the store, and hiding the bottle in the bathroom ceiling.

Aug. 18 – D. L. Barton responded to Palmetto Farm and Garden on Hwy. 29, where he received a report from William Bridwell that the alarm had been set off. A side door was found to have been broken into, but nothing was reported missing.

Aug. 18 – T. B. Dugan received a complaint from Christopher Dutton that his work truck had been broken into and approximately $500 worth of his personal tools had been stolen.

Aug. 18 – J. C. Moore received a complaint of vandalism from Lonnie Jones, of RCR Speedshop, 130 Lebby Street. Jones said he was in the back of the building when he heard his store alarm going off. He went to the front of the store and found his front window cracked and a golf ball on the ground. Three juvenile boys across the street said that two Hispanic males had been seen shooting golf balls out of a gun resembling a paintball gun.

 Aug. 20 – C. Whitfield responded to 3 Finley Street where Jason Page stated that Joanie Hicks,WF, 45, 6’, 193 pounds, brn/brn, had struck him during an argument and later kicked in his front door. She refused to leave despite repeated requests and was arrested for trespassing and transported to ACDC.

PIEDMONT

Aug. 18 – T. B. Dugan was dispatched to Highway 20 and Big Creek Road, where he found Phillip Richey, WM, 23, of 13922 Highway 20, in the custody of the Belton Police and ACSO investigator Hayden. Reports state Richey had been wandering into traffic and was carrying a knife. Dugan placed him in the cruiser for transport. While en route, Richey kicked out the back passenger side window of the cruiser. He was transported to AnMed for treatment prior to being taken to ACDC on charges of disorderly conduct.

Aug. 18 – D.W. Davis responded to 10910 Anderson Rd., where Cameron Huffman reported the cutting of a tire on his vehicle, which was parked at the Ingles supermarket where he worked. He stated that he had broken up with a former girlfriend that night, and that she had been very angry. Due to the practice of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office of redacting suspect information from incident reports, the suspect is described only as a WF. All other details of her appearance are blacked out.

Aug. 18 – J.C. Moore investigated a complaint of petit larceny, where Tom Thompson, owner of an auto repair shop, reported that a pistol had been stolen from a car belonging to Caesar Starnes, of Darlington, SC. The car had been at the shop for several months.

Aug. 19 – D.W. Davis responded to a construction site at 521 Pioneer Lane where Doug Allen reported that a trailer filled with tools and construction equipment valued at approximately $4700 had been stolen from the site overnight.

WILLIAMSTON

Aug. 18 – D. L. Barton responded to a complaint of petit larceny at 619 Foster Road, where Billy Kay stated that someone had stolen three nail guns from a shed at his house. He heard them when motion alarms went off, and saw a young white male wearing a red jacket, black hat and camo pants running across the yard with the nail guns. He pursued him in his vehicle, but could not locate him. The nail guns were located in a ditch near the site, and returned to Kay.

Upstate hosts national cycling championships

An all American field of riders competed in the  USA Cycling Championships which were held in Greenville over the Labor Day weekend.

Time trial specialist David Zabriskie (Team CSC) captured the first-ever national title at the USA Cycling Professional Individual Time Trial Championships, winning the 20.15-mile event  Friday with a time of 41 minutes and 49 seconds.

On Sunday, Greenville resident and Tour de France stage winner George Hincapie (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling) outlasted a 102-rider field and outsprinted his future teammate Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) to capture the second Stars and Stripes jersey of his career.

During a news conference held Thursday, Zabriskie told The Journal that he thought the time trial course, which included a portion of Hwy. 11 and surrounding secondary roads north of Greenville, “was a really good race course” and that the event was put together well.

He said that the Greenville race and others held in the United States were comparable to races in Europe and the competition was comparable. “There is no such thing as an easy race,” Zabriskie said.

He said he was looking forward to the competition which included 2005 Elite Time Trial National Champion Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United Cycling Team) and his teammate, defending road race national champion Chris Wherry.

The Time Trial race was decided within the final mile of the out and back course, which started at The Cliffs at Mountain Park and the finished at The Cliffs Valley.

Baldwin was leading when he crashed on a sharp 90-degree right turn near the finish line. He finished 32 seconds behind Zabriskie, taking second place. The third spot on the podium was won by Iowa native, Jason McCartney (Discovery Channel), who represented the U. S. at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Baldwin said he could not blame anyone except himself. “It’s pretty ironic, I’m usually the guy who knows every inch of the course and am pretty meticulous about pre-riding. I only rode it once, the day before. At 20 miles per hour is totally different than coming into it hot at 40 miles per hour, with a narrow tire and a disc (wheel),” Baldwin commented at the post-race press conference.

In comparing the US races to European races, Baldwin said, “They are up to the level of most races in Europe.” He said the difference is in the riders. “Courses are courses. It is the level of the athletes that make the difference.”

Zabriskie entered the race as a favorite, having won two time trials this year at the prominent Dauphine Libere stage race in France. 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 is also the first American to have won a stage in all three Grand Tours – Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.

After winning the time trial, Zabriskie was awarded the Stars and Stripes Jersey, and as a national champion, will wear the stars and stripes jersey at any time trial event in which he competes during the next year.

“I rode the course once yesterday,” Zabriskie said following the race. “It turned out to be a lot harder today than I was expecting it to be. I knew the course was short, and I knew it would really be an intense effort. The course was really nice,” Zabriskie said about the foothills time trial route.

Another local favorite, Craig Lewis (Team TIAA-CREF),  finished 17th in the time trial, 2’29” behind Zabriskie. Lewis, a Spartanburg native and Dorman High graduate, has won two Under-23 national championships in criterium and road race this year.

Lewis said the the races in Europe were much harder than in the U. S. because “the guys grew up on the sport.” “It is a different style of racing,” he said. The Spartanburg native began bicycle racing at the age of 17, training with Hincapie Sports team based out of Greenville.

George Hincapie (Discovery Channel Team), who also lives in Greenville, did not compete in the Individual Time Trial Championship on Friday.

Hincapie wins USA Cycling Championship

Greenville - For the first time ever an all American field of riders competed in the  USA Cycling Championships which were held in Greenville.The Sunday road race marked the first time that the professional championship has been held outside Philadelphia and the first time in 21 years of the event that the field was comprised solely of American-only riders.

Greenville resident and Tour de France stage winner George Hincapie (Discovery Channel Professional Cycling Team) outlasted a 102-rider field and outsprinted his future teammate Levi Leipheimer (Team Gerolsteiner) to capture the second Stars and Stripes jersey in his career.

Hincapie, who won the national road race title in 1998, won the USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championships in a time of 4 hour 47 minutes and 15 seconds. Leipheimer followed 16 seconds behind in a final time of 4.47’31”, and Danny Pate (Team TIAA-CREF) finished third in 4.48’35”, one minute and 20 seconds back.

The 120.5-mile course included five long circuits of 21.85 miles each and a climb up Paris Mountain, a ridge reaching an elevation of 1,872 feet. A field of 102 American professionals started the race, and 31 completed the challenging event. The fourth climb up Paris Mountain became the decisive break when nine riders broke away and became the only riders who would finish the final three downtown circuits.

Hincapie and Leipheimer, two of four ProTour riders in the field, were considered favorites. Defending champion Chris Wherry (Toyota-United Professional Cycling) was expected to make a challenge and finished fifth overall. One of the most aggressive riders of the day was Andrew Bajadali (Jelly Belly), who won two Verizon Wireless King of the Paris Mountain competitions. Bajadali joined Hincapie and Leipheimer in downtown Greenville as the race leaders during the final three downtown circuits, but faded to finish sixth. The three other Verizon Wireless King of Paris Mountain climbs were won by TIAA-CREF’s Lucas Euser (first lap), Leipheimer (second lap) and Hincapie (fifth lap).

“It was definitely a race of attrition. I hoped that everybody went hard up the hill every time. I knew that it was going to be really hard and I was really dead at the end, but I knew that if I’m dead everybody else has gotta be even more dead,” said Hincapie, whose wife Melanie presented him the national championship jersey on the award podium. “Levi was really super strong today and I just attacked him with one K to go, put everything I had into it and it worked out. It was great.” Leipheimer has signed a contract to race with the Discovery Channel Professional Cycling Team for 2007.

Rain dampened the course in the final hour, but did not diminish a crowd estimated to be 45,000 people. Thousands of spectators cheered enthusiastically for Hincapie and Craig Lewis (Team TIAA-CREF), another Greenville resident. Lewis, who has won two Under-23 national championships already this year (criterium and road race), finished 20th in the road race today. David Zabriskie (Team CSC), who won the Individual Time Trial championship on Friday, did not finish the race.

“The crowd was amazing. Everywhere I saw my name on the road, which are roads that I ride on everyday, and I heard my name from the beginning to end. And to have my family right here at the end of the race is just an amazing experience, really emotional,” Hincapie added.

The weekend of activities drew 62,000 spectators to Greenville and the Upstate area of South Carolina. On Friday, Zabriskie won the USA Cycling Professional Individual Time Trial Championship, presented by The Cliffs. On Saturday, the Rock and Roll for Cancer Research provided entertainment for fans on a rest day for the riders, including a concert and a fundraiser bicycle ride, the Palmetto Peloton Project. Through Sunday morning the Palmetto Peloton Project had raised $82,000 for the Greenville Hospital System Oncology Research Institute and The Lance Armstrong Foundation.

On Friday time trial specialist David Zabriskie (Team CSC) captured the first-ever national title at the USA Cycling Professional Individual Time Trial Championships. The 20.15-mile event started at The Cliffs at Mountain Park and the finish at The Cliffs Valley, taking a field of 54 pro riders on an undulating and scenic course across the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

For final results, race photos and athlete quotes, visit the official event website, www.usacyclingchampionships.com.

Seems to Me . . . It’s time to quit

By Stan Welch

Well, it seems as if we may finally be at the end of the long municipal nightmare that Williamston has had to endure. No, I don’t mean the financial lunacy that passes for management at City Hall. I mean the endless parade of concerned citizens, usually the same six or seven, who have stood again and again and again to damn Mayor Clardy for his part in putting the Town in this position.

Now anyone who reads this column knows that I am not impressed with the way Mayor Clardy has performed . He has been shortsighted, and arrogant, and often seems overwhelmed by the job he has. His claims of open government ring as hollow as a BB in a coffee can. He has used the excuse that Council failed to rein him in until even his supporters are sick of hearing it. I certainly am.

He also has an unfortunate tendency to turn criticism aside by questioning the motives of the critic in question.  For example, someone spoke at a meeting in recent weeks, and Mayor Clardy told me later that the person receives health insurance through the Town. His point was that that fact somehow blunted their criticism, or should. But the fact is that sour grapes are still grapes, and there are bunches to go around.

He pointed out some job Judy Ellison had once been offered, or applied for, depending on whose version you hear. He mentioned that as a rebuttal to charges leveled by her at one of the recent meetings. Frankly, her charges were of a personal nature and of little value to the general debate over his performance.

That is my point. Over the last several months, the Town has made remarkable progress towards getting their problems under control. But throughout that time, during which a lengthy series of meetings have been held, many of them to allow the public to essentially vent their frustrations, the same cast of characters has appeared again and again. At first, they had something to say, but as one who has attended at least ninety per cent of those meetings, I can tell you that nothing new has been offered by the public in weeks.

Instead, what was proposed and billed as a model of democracy has become, in my opinion, a personal and political circus which does Williamston no good. Orchestrated in part by the Mayor’s critics both on and off the Council, these public sessions resulted in little more than personal attacks on Clardy, or individual demonstrations of the various speakers’ cleverness and vitriol.

At least a couple of the public portions of the meetings were questionable, in terms of  the type meeting they were allowed at. But the public was allowed to speak so everyone could have their say, and everyone did. It just seems that they ran out of things to say before they ran out of opportunities.

How long will this continue? Will it end with the adoption of a tax increase? Probably not, since so many seem to be having so much fun. Will any of these suddenly deeply involved citizens offer for public office at the next opportunity? Probably not, especially since they generally represent one specific area of town, which would create a very crowded primary.

Resident after resident has demanded that the Mayor resign, and he has refused to do so. There have been dire hints that no tax increase will be passed unless he does. How many noses is the Town Council willing to cut off to spite their own faces? Any decision by Council to continue a thirteen year streak without a tax increase will damage the town and undo many of its efforts to regain some financial stability.

Residents who howled weeks ago that the debris from the ice storm was still in the streets now see no particular reason to rush into hiring any more street workers. I guess the debris in their neighborhoods got picked up or something.

It is distressing to see how quickly Williamston’s troubles became a political football once it became clear that revenues were rolling in, and the near death experience was over. The legitimate and defensible concerns and frustrations expressed by the Town’s people six months ago have turned into an incessant chorus of carping that does little but make noise.

A meeting arranged to bring the Mayor and his chief opponent on the Council, Marion Middleton, Jr., together to seek a compromise that would let the Town move forward lasted just a few minutes before Middleton reportedly stormed out. It was Middleton who led the effort to schedule three meetings last week, two of which were designed to allow the above mentioned cast to come to the microphone and say the same things they have been saying since February.

Perhaps the purpose of all this sudden citizen involvement is indeed related to some belated recognition of one’s civic duty, but it’s beginning to look a lot like a lynch mob that just can’t seem to get the rope over the tree limb.

It is time for all those who claim to love their town to turn down the rhetoric and begin to rebuild the Town’s image. The recent success of the Spring Water Festival, which was salvaged and greatly advanced by the efforts of the town’s people, should show the way.

Seems to me, it’s time to quit pointing fingers and start lending a hand.  

 

 

 

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