News Archive

(3805) Week of Sept. 21, 2005

Week of Sept. 21, 2005

Palmetto to crown homecoming queen
Sidewalk restoration project work begins
Firing raises town policy questions
Displaced family receiving local help
SGFD Emergency Response Team help with search and recovery
Residents turn out for Strong Community forum
Preston avoiding deposition in FOI case
Grants to benefit Piedmont area
PPSD August meeting
Lions ready for Candy Day
County Detention Center needs expansion
AC Sheriff's report
Mother sentenced to 20 years

Palmetto to crown homecoming queen

Palmetto High School will celebrate homecoming this Friday evening, crowning a new queen during halftime ceremonies of the Palmetto-Crescent football game.

Homecoming candidates are Rachel Irwin, Margaret Mathis, Hayley Meade, Nicole Bush, Katie Lollis, Jessica Vinson, Danielle Smith, Kristen Clark, Brittany Bowman, and Bernadette Gaines.

Senior football players and their sponsors are Cruz West sponsored by Lauren Taylor; Haley Tribble and J. C. Smith; Hannah Rogers and Thomas Land; Lauren Riddle and Andrew Henry; Rachel Irwin and Wes Barnes.

Rachel Irwin is the daughter of Robert and Kathy Irwin. She will be escorted by her father.

Margaret Elizabeth Mathis is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs Jeff Clouse. She will be escorted by her father.

Hayley Renee Meade is the daughter of David and Renee Meade.  She will be escorted by her father.

Eva Nicole Bush is the daughter of Chris and Monica Bush. She will be escorted by her father.

Lindsay Katherine (Katie) Lollis is the daughter of Vic and Deana Lollis. She will be escorted by her father.

Jessica Ann Vinson is the daughter of Gary and Paula Vinson. She will be escorted by her father..Leah Danielle Smith is the daughter of Lee and Missy Smith. She will be escorted by her father.

Kristen Miranda Clark is the daughter of Mike and Karen Clark. She will be escorted by her father.

Brittany Nicole Bowman is the daughter of Robert and Beth Bowman. She will be escorted by her father.

Bernadette Gaines is the daughter of Bernard Horton and Mashelle Gaines. She will be escorted by her father.

Senior football player Cruz West is the son of Brad West and Stacy Enibtawi. His sponsor, Lauren Ashley taylor is the daughter of Ronnie and Cindy Taylor.

J. C. Smith is the son of Tony and Cindy Whitlock and Johnny and Tonya Smith. His sponsor Haley Miranda Tribble, is the daughter of Randy Tribble and Pam Harrison.

Thomas Land is the son of Tony and Donnelle Land. His sponsor is Hannah Rogers, daughter of Keith and Sheila Rogers.

Andrew Henry is the son of Amanda Henry. His sponsor Lauryn Riddle is the daughter of Angie and Joe Riddle.

Wesley Barnes is the son of Lisa Wooten and Todd Barnes. Sponsor Rachel Irwin is the daughter of Robert and Kathy Irwin.

Sidewalk restoration project work begins

Work has finally begun on a sidewalk replacement and improvement project which will encompass the area from along Main St. (Hwy. 20) from Academy Street to Hamilton St. The project will include replacing sidewalks on both sides of Main St., including replacing entire sidewalks through the town and making them handicap accessible.

Williamston has had issues in the past where persons in wheelchairs and walkers had problems on the sidewalks, many of which are cracked, and in some places, covered with debris.

The Town of Williamston was awarded a $192,000 Rural Enhancement Grant by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) to be used for a sidewalk improvement project in 2003. Matching funds will make up the difference, officials said. The grant application stated the sidewalks in the town currently do not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act in form or spirit and are in serious disrepair and must be either rebuilt, restored or repaired.

The new sidewalks will be wider than the 5 foot ADA requirement and will have a flatter cross slope, officials said. According to the grant, the project will provide a complete pedestrian walkway that is totally handicap accessible. 

Williamston Town Council approved in June a bid of $224,362 by Wham Bros. Construction Company to undertake the project which includes removing and replacing 979 square yards of 4 inch sidewalk; 881 square yards of 6 inch driveways and 75 linear feet of curb and gutter. It also includes constructing 139 square yards of new 4 inch sidewalk; 303 linear feet of new curb and gutter; 165 square yards of asphalt for drives and constructing 45 handicap ramps.

The federal grant is awarded through DOT and is earmarked for revitalization. Members of the Anderson County legislative delegation including Representative Michael Thompson, Representative Dan Cooper, Senator Billy O’Dell and Anderson County Council District 7 Representative Cindy Wilson were all instrumental in obtaining the grant.

The project was originally to extend along Anderson Drive toward Hardees, but was cut back to Academy St. because of right-of-way issues which also delayed the project.

Mayor Phillip Clardy said earlier this year he hoped the work will be completed by this fall. Local officials involved in the grant process will have an official groundbreaking for the project later this week.

Firing raises town policy questions

By Stan Welch

Despite the Town of Williamston’s grievance committee releasing their findings, the case of former employee Ronnie Rowe remains unclear and confusing. Rowe, with the official grievance report to support him, claims now, as he did at the grievance hearing, that he did not falsify town documents, as Mayor Phillip Clardy has argued. The grievance report goes on to say that  “Rowe’s lack of procuring his SLED report bordered on insubordination”, the second reason given for his firing.

The committee then goes on to say that Rowe did, in their view, attempt to conceal his former arrest record from the town. This finding was made despite sworn testimony from Rowe’s former supervisor that Rowe told him about his record prior to being hired by the town.

Rowe has consistently claimed that he was advised by Tim Hood, his supervisor, to answer the question on the application for the Class D water distribution license concerning the existence of a criminal record by checking neither yes or no. Upon the application being returned, Rowe answered yes and no, stating that he was not sure whether his conviction was for a felony or misdemeanor.

That botched application led the state Licensing and Labor Regulations Board to require a SLED report. Rowe, speaking to the grievance committee at his August hearing, conceded delaying obtaining the report, but added that Hood was well aware of his past record. A written statement by  Hood said that he received a telephone call at home one night. Mayor Clardy told him to give Rowe the choice of quitting or being fired “for falsifying an LLR application. On the morning of  March 24, I called him into the office and told him he had falsified the application and he said he had not and to check the paper work on file.”  

Rowe has argued that he did not falsify the LLOR application, but that even if he had, that application is not a town document. The license, if issued, is issued to the individual, like a CDL driver’s license. It accompanies the applicant, and not his employer. Rowe informed The Journal this week that he has since met with the LLR board and will receive his license in the next two weeks. “If I falsified this document, why would the state issue the license? Mayor Clardy made a big deal at the hearing that he had been told I wouldn’t get the license under any circumstances. I don’t know who he talked to, but I’m expecting the license any day now.”

 Further muddying the waters are the claims of a former town employee who says that none of the reasons offered by the Town for Rowe’s firing are valid. Curtis C. Bellue was an employee of the Town’s parks and recreation department for almost four years, He recently moved to a job in the private sector. He has provided The Journal with a written statement which says in part that Rowe was fired because town officials were concerned he might reveal unsafe conditions which frequently occur during daily operations.

Those conditions, according to both Rowe and Bellue include using the bucket of the Town’s front end loader as a boom to lift employees to unsafe heights without being harnessed safely; and placing employees in ditches or holes which have not been properly shored up or supported to prevent cave ins.

Bellue says that Rowe used to carry a small digital camera in his shirt pocket and take pictures of some of the violations. He further states that he was told that Rowe would be fired if he kept taking the pictures.

Bellue also challenges the Town’s adherence to its own drug policy. “There was one drug test the whole four years. I was there. One day, we had a guy so high on pills he could hardly walk. Instead of dealing with him, the Mayor decided to test everybody. So Friday morning, we all got tested. At least 7 or 8 employees failed that test, mostly for marijuana, but one guy tested for meth. None of them was fired. They were told they could go to drug counseling, at their own expense. Then, they would face two random drug tests in the next year. If they failed one, they’d be fired. The random tests were never done. None of them were ever fired.”

The drug policy contained in the Town’s policies and procedures handbook states that the use of illegal drugs while at work or on town property will result in discharge. Such use while off duty may result in discharge.    The distinction is lost on Bellue. “All I know is that the town has a total disregard for its own safety and drug policies.”

Displaced family receiving local help

By Stan Welch

The night before Hurricane Katrina began ruining the Gulf Coast and the city of New Orleans, an extended family of eleven people fled the bull’s eye and went to Alexandria, Louisiana to stay with friends. It was the smart move, and one that would have worked out just fine nine times out of ten.

But Katrina wasn’t one storm in ten; it was one storm in a hundred. It overwhelmed New Orleans’ levees and flood controls, and filled the city with water. Still, the family’s plan looked workable, until the waters continued to rise, not fall. After two weeks, the six adults and five children felt they couldn’t impose on friends any longer.

That’s how the Easley, Estorge and Maillho families all came to Pelzer, where they are staying with family. That’s also how the towns of Pelzer and West Pelzer decided to work together to try and help the family.

Barbara and Bryan Easley are the grandparents, with daughters Shelley Maillho and Marnie Estorge. The sisters’ husbands, Paul Maillho and Teddy Estorge, have both returned to the stricken city, fortunately to resume their jobs. Teddy works at a local restaurant, while Paul is a 28 year veteran of the New Orleans Fire Department.

Christine Bailey is the third daughter, who took in her family. Shelley and Paul have three children, Justin, 16, Charles, 14, and Marlena, 12. Both boys are JROTC members, a fact which led Palmetto High’s AFJROTC unit to contact the towns, as well as Pastor Ellenburg of the Palmetto Baptist Association.

Teddy and Marnie Estorge have two boys, Ashton, 3, and Tristan, 2. The house is crowded with 12 people, but that problem will soon work itself out. You see, the family is preparing to return to their home, and begin to rebuild their lives. The problem is that they have lost everything. Marnie was lucky enough to be able to return home briefly after the water fell, but the news wasn’t good. Water rose several feet within the house, and thick mold has already covered the walls and all the furniture.

Barbara, who was born in the French Quarter and has spent her entire life there, was not so lucky. She and her sister live within a block of each other, but their homes continue to be impossible to reach. The condition of the homes remains unknown.

Incredibly, Marnie’s husband Teddy recently found a two bedroom apartment in Manderville, across Lake Pontchartrain. The family is preparing to return there together. Marnie knows it will be rough, but there are several reasons why they have to return. One of the most important is that her father, Bryan, suffers from a rare disease called Fabry’s disease.

The disease, according to Barbara, attacks the various organs of the body until it defeats them. Bryan has had two kidney transplants, suffers from heart trouble, and has recently learned that the disease has spread to his brain. He is undergoing an experimental treatment at Oschner Medical facility near New Orleans. It is one of the few hospitals using the enzyme therapy, and the one which accepts Bryan’s insurance. He has already missed one treatment; the next is due soon. The hospital is open and functioning, but Bryan is hundreds of miles away.

Mayor Paxton says that the family needs so many things it’s hard to know where to start. “Clothes, cookware, linens, furniture, there is literally nothing that these folks don’t need. That’s why the towns, and some of the area firemen, are all chipping in. “The town is raffling off chances for a Palmetto High School rag blanket. On Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the town will be selling hot dog plates at the fire department to raise money. The plates will be $3.50.A number of Upstate firefighters will be collecting donations at traffic lights in Piedmont and Pelzer.”

Mayor Paxton and Pelzer’s Mayor Page Henderson cosigned and issued a two page letter, explaining the family’s plight, and seeking help from their citizens.

Mayor Paxton said that small items or cash donations can be left at the West Pelzer Town Hall, while larger items and clothing can be taken to the West Pelzer Fire Department. “We’re going to tow a trailer down there with what we collect in it, since they don’t have any means of doing that for themselves. We’re also looking for an ambulance to transport Bryan back more comfortably. It’s hard for him to travel in a regular vehicle.”

The Piedmont Fire Department is also planning to help with gas expense to return Bryan to Louisianna.

Marnie Estorge and Barbara Easley say that they know how uncertain their future is, and how upsetting the last few weeks have been. But both credit the warmth of their reception with helping them to weather the rough times. “Everyone, including the two mayors, have been so wonderful. It’s not just the actual help that counts so much, it’s just knowing that there are so many people who care about us. It’s theonly thing that has gotten us through,” said Marnie.

They plan to be at the fire house Saturday, helping prepare the hot dog plates,and meeting the folks who stop to help.

SGFD Emergency Response Team help with search and recovery

By Stan Welch

Soon after Hurricane Katrina moved inland, leaving a shattered Gulf Coast in her wake, emergency preparedness officials in the area got on the Internet to do a little shopping. They were looking for just the right tools to use in addressing the death and devastation left behind.

 It wasn’t chain saws or heavy equipment that they found; it was the South Greenville Fire District’s Emergency Response Team. By accessing a national data base, Louisiana officials were able to find the units with the necessary training and the proper equipment to move into such chaos and help search for the living, as well as locate the dead. All members of the Greenville Fire Department have achieved national certification, so they are able to respond to any crisis, anywhere in the country. A total of 22 responders from Greenville County traveled to the Gulf Coast.

Six members of the South Greenville ERT went to Louisiana for a week, leaving on Sept. 4 and returning on the 11th. What they saw there and what they did there will stay with them for a long time. Three of the six talked to The Journal this week about their experience.

Ken Taylor leads the team. He is a burly fellow with big arms and a retreating hairline. He smiles easily, but his voice takes on an edge when he talks about the numbers of dead, and how that number is being reduced for public consumption. Taylor says that if the news media is saying that 600 have died, you can bet the real number is 3 times that high.

Gene Yates and Robby Brannon agree. All three men talked about a school in St. Bernard’s Parish that was used for a shelter. According to them, when the doors were opened, the smell of the bodies was so bad that the building was closed, and they were told not to enter it. None can understand why the true numbers are being withheld, but they suspect political interference. “People should know just how bad it is down there,” says Brannon.

Other sights were less grim, although just as amazing. Brannon talks of working his way around a house where he found a boat and trailer lodged in a palm tree about twenty feet off the ground. Yates recalls seeing Six Flags New Orleans. “All you could see was the high parts of the roller coasters sticking up out of the water. Everything else was submerged.  Taylor had the opportunity to enter an area near the Mississippi River, where an old Domino’s sugar mill stood. The building was eight stories tall, and every window on every side was blown out.

Another thing all three agree on is the fact that there is no shortage of snakes and alligators in the affected areas, especially in St. Tammy’s near Slidell. The teams spent three days there, searching for survivors. They found none, but all of them saw enough snakes to last them awhile.

“Man, I saw water moccasins as big around as my arm, and those durn green snakes were everywhere,” said Brannon. Taylor agreed, saying the green ones were harmless, but added, “If you see something move when you reach down to move a piece of rubble, you don’t wait around to see what kind of snake it is.” Fish and minnows apparently fared well, although Yates said thousands of dead fish were everywhere. “But every pool of water you saw had minnows swimming in it.”

After clearing the area assigned to them much faster than expected, the team was moved to St. Bernard’s Parish. There, they met and worked with teams from New York, Chicago, California, Maryland, and Canada. “They were glad to see us. I think word had spread about our performance in St. Tammy’s. Our guys did real well down there,” said Taylor.

They found one survivor, a woman who had survived for more than a week in the attic of her church. The rest of those with her had been rescued by helicopter fairly soon after the storm passed. But this lady, to put it delicately, could not fit through the hole in the roof to escape. Apparently, the helicopter forgot to return for her, and she spent another week living on water, a few Snickers, and crackers.

Said Brannon, “She was still a big woman when we found her, and she hadn’t really eaten in a week. You could see where she could have had some trouble getting through the hole.”

Brannon said that he had never been to war, but he had an idea what it looked like. “You see some disaster sites and the rubble is two by fours and plywood. Down there, even the rubble and debris was shredded. It was just unbelievable. Our team has been to several scenes, but I’ve never seen anything like that.”

All three men were most impressed by things that weren’t there, such as birds and flies. “We were sitting around eating our MREs one day, and we realized there weren’t any flies buzzing around. There weren’t any birds. It was just an unnatural, eerie quiet,” said Taylor.

Yates agreed, saying “The only time you heard any noise, it was either wind, or people making it. There were a lot of dogs and cats who lived, and more that didn’t, but it was just so quiet.”

Quiet and sad, said Brannon. “It was just really sad down there. It was like a whole town had drowned. It’s hard to put into words. It was just very sad.”

Residents turn out for Strong Community forum

Approximately 80 people from the communities of Pelzer, West Pelzer and Williamston attended a community forum September 15 at the Williamston Municipal Center to hear from local officials ways they plan to help make the communities safer for children.

The forum was sponsored by Strong Communities to provide information to help identify problems in the communities and recruit volunteers to help solve them.

 The initiative is supported by Strong Communities for Children in the Golden Strip, which  is a comprehensive, community-wide initiative to prevent child abuse and neglect in southern Greenville County and adjoining communities in Anderson and Laurens counties.

Strong Communities is a public service activity of the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life at Clemson University, and is based at The Golden Strip Center. It is supported by a multi-year grant from The Duke Endowment.

West Pelzer Mayor Peggy Paxton welcomed guests to the forum.

Sharon Crout, of Strong Communities for Children presented information on the initiative along with a slide show.

Mayor Paxton, speaking to the group first, said the gathering for the three towns was historical and that working to keep children safe was a good reason to put differences aside and focus on becoming a strong community.

Paxton said that things had changed considerably since she was a child and providing a safe place for children to play was important to her.

Williamston Police Chief David Baker said he plans to involve his department in the initiative through a family watch program in which young families with small children will be matched with volunteers to help them. He also said they plan to provide baskets with baby items and other things to young parents with new babies.

He said he hopes to have the community in touch with them through childcare, transportation and access to health care.

“I am extremely excited about this program in our three communities,” Chief Baker said.

He also presented results of a recent survey of teens in the community which show there are problems such as drug or alchohol use by friends and parents. There are also issues with sexual activity including assault, rape and other issues, according to the survey, Baker said.

West Pelzer Police Chief Bernard Wilson discussed crime and drug prevention, focusing on methamphetamine.

Wilson said that marijuana was once the drug of choice in the area but that is now methamphetamine and that meth labs exist all over the upstate.

“Labs are everywhere,” he said. “In homes and cars.”

He said that 90 percent of the property crime is based on some type of drug abuse, where a person is supporting their habit by stealing.

Using a slide show, Wilson explained the chemicals necessary to make methamphetamine.

 The drug is made by using a number of easy to obtain materials that are combined with over the counter Sudafed sinus tablets, which contain a necessary ingredient.

A solvent such as starter fluid, freon, acetone or methanol ether is also used he said.

Reasons for making meth, according to Wilson, it is easy to make, they don’t have to ship it and it has a huge profit margin.

All that is needed to make the drug is a water source, knowledge of the process and privacy, Wilson said.

Methamphetamine is also known as speed, ice, crystal or crank. Young children are often found in the area where the drug is being manufactured, according to Wilson.

“It is a bad, bad, thing,” Wilson told the group. “It is growing rapidly.”

“It is easy to sit on the sidelines,” Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy told the group. “I challenge you to get involved and make a difference.”

Clardy uged the group to form community watch programs. “You don’t have to have a sign,” Clardy said. “We need to know our neighborhoods.”

Clardy said every child should have a doctor as an option to an emergency room. He said his long term vision is a community center to be used as a clinic providing optometry, dentistry and chiropractic care for the community.

Clardy said he would like to see activities for the young people, providing something for them to do after school.

He also said he plans to designate certain areas to be a police substation, where police officers are present, but not in a building.

He also said that parenting groups are needed. “We are seeing more and more, not competent parents raising their children,” he said. He also hopes to provide support groups.

He also supports adult day care facilities and similar programs such as Senior Solutions which provide recreation and opportunities for seniors.

Clardy said the area needs other improvements such as sidewalks, bike trails, parks and picnic areas.

A goal for the town is to be proactive, not defensive, he said. he also encouraged the group to help with the drug problem. “We need to keep a watch for drug houses.”

“We are a good community. Let’s become a community that is involved with the mutual relations we’ve got to have to pull our resources together. We have a need and we want to address it,” he said.

Pelzer Town Administrator Skip Watkins, filling in for Mayor Page Henderson who was recovering from hip surgery, said they wanted to address problems one neighborhood at a time.

“We need to take action on our problems,” he said.

Watkins pointed out several projects that they are supporting including providing training classes for volunteers who he said would like to be a family friend.

Following up on earlier information concerning drugs and meth, Watkins said, “We have to take our neighborhoods back. We have to help those who are addicted. It is not just a police problem. It is our problem.”

Watkins also mentioned rec teams that need coaches and sponsors, and other assests including a community pool which he said is available for competitive swimming, and the need for a teen initiative providing a safe place for teens to gather. He also mentioned a proposed skate board park which will need adult volunteers.

Strong Communities seeks to build systems of care for families of young children including through the development of centers of community in all of the participating communities. For more information, visit www.clemson.edu/strongcommunities or call 864-688-2214.

 For more information on any of the local programs or on how you can become involved, contact officials at The Town of Pelzer, West Pelzer or Williamston.

Preston avoiding deposition in FOI case

By Stan Welch

 The attorneys representing District 7 Councilwoman Cindy Wilson in her legal fight with County Administrator Joey Preston to obtain public information have filed court documents alleging that Preston is willfully seeking to avoid being deposed, as well as reportedly interfering with efforts to depose County Finance Director Rita Davis.

Jay Bender, Wilson’s attorney in the matter, and the state’s preeminent expert on the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, filed the papers in response to what Wilson describes as “the latest delay tactics.” According to Bender’s personal affidavit, those tactics have been employed consistently; beginning on November 15, 2004 when a lawsuit was filed, seeking a writ of mandamus forcing Preston to release a number of county records, including routine financial records, legal vendor files, and certain documents that were addendums to the contract for the sale of the Big Creek Landfill to Allied Waste, Inc. in 1997.

One of those documents was a royalty agreement known as Schedule 22, which laid out the amount per ton paid to Anderson County as a host fee on all garbage imported from outside the county to the Anderson Regional Landfill. That document reportedly also contained the royalty paid per ton to Claude Graham, who brokered the sale. Graham has stated under oath that he is unsure of the amount of the royalty.

Said Wilson recently, “The host fee agreement was a key element of the sale.  I have been trying for several years to obtain this information. How can the County be sure they are being compensated fairly if they can’t even review the contract?”   Preston has refused to provide the legal vendor files to Wilson, claiming they are protected by attorney/client privilege, unless he is instructed other wise by the Council. Council has so far declined to provide such instruction by a majority vote on the matter, despite a growing legal bill for the continuing litigation.

Wilson has consistently contended that the documents sought, with the exception of legal vendor files concerning legal proceedings the Beaverdam sewer project, are clearly public information. Preston has just as consistently contested that claim, despite written opinions by two SC Attorney Generals supporting Wilson’s position.

Bender’s latest filing was apparently spurred by continuing delays in the deposition process. Two recent events in particular are cited in the court documents, filed recently. Bender refers to his intention to depose Preston and Davis on Sept. 19. Preston’s attorney responded by reporting that Preston had a child in the hospital, “thereby making him unavailable for a deposition.”

According to the court documents, Bender asked for verification  “that the defendant actually had a child in the hospital and that the defendant was spending his time at the hospital. I also requested an explanation regarding information I had received indicating that defendant had requested an extended leave from the county so as to participate during the week of September 19 in hurricane recovery efforts in Mississippi.”

The document continues, “That request for leave seemed inconsistent with a need to postpone a deposition on September 19. I have been informed that defendant’s son was in the hospital Sept. 12 and 13 and was back in school by September 14.”  

The minutes of the September 6 Council meeting, the only meeting held since Katrina made landfall, reflects no vote by council to authorize leave for Preston. In fact they reflect no such request being made. A request by The Journal under the Freedom of Information Act was answered by county attorney Tom Martin, saying that he knows nothing of any letter authorizing Preston’s absence or of any such vote by Council. He goes on to say that he contacted the Administrator’s office and that Preston’s office is also unaware of any such letter or vote.

Bender went on to say that Preston never provides specific dates convenient to him, or to Davis, “yet complains when depositions are scheduled.” Bender’s accompanying response to Preston’s efforts to quash the subpoena of Davis concludes by saying that the “defendant’s request for a protective order should be denied, and defendant should be ordered to appear at the time and place determined by plaintiff’s counsel to be deposed, and to cease his interference with the deposition of Ms. Davis.”

Recreation, sewer grants to benefit Piedmont area

The Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners discussed recreation and sewer grants and the expected increase in heating costs during their regular monthly meeting which was held  Tuesday.

In old business, Chair Marsha Rogers told Commissioners the District has two recreation grants totaling $17,000. One is a state PARD grant and the other is from Anderson County.

The grants are earmarked for the Tom C. Pack memorial ballpark and Rogers asked Commissioners to consider improvements for the site.

Rogers said she would like to see the District purchase a 20x10 steel trailer, at a price of $1,600 to be used for storage of the District’s tractor.

Rogers also suggested an additional shelter for the park and a horseshoe venue.  Another suggestion was a water fountain. No action was taken.

In new business, Administrator Butch Nichols reported that Piedmont firemen had collected $1,400 for hurricane relief. Nichols also said that the Piedmont Fire Department was contributing $200 to a family in Piedmont who had fled the gulf area because of the hurricane.

He also reported that the fire department, at the request of the Pelzer EMS, is helping a sick hurricane victim who is currently in Pelzer. The man, who is also a fireman, is asking for help in returning to his home.

Rogers reported that three members of the board had approved by a special vote, a request allowing a veteran’s memorial to be placed in front of the community building.

Commissioner Frankie Garrett questioned the vote of approval and the short notice, stating that he knew nothing of it.

Rogers said she had attempted to contact all commissioners by phone to get approval, but was unsuccessful and that she was leaving town at the time.

She apologized but stated that she had received approval from three members of the five member board to allow the marker honoring Piedmont veteran Captain Joe R. Hooper.

Commissioners also unanimously approved gutter replacement for the fire department building. A quote of approximately $1,042 by Piedmont Gutter Systems was approved for the work.

Nichols reported that the District had received four quotes on work required on sewer lines.

He recommended a quote by Underground Camera Service, Inc. of Monroe, N. C. for providing the needed cleaning and evaluation of the district’s sewer lines.

The District has already been approved for a $25,000 grant which will pay for the work. Rogers stated that the work had already been approved, however she did ask for a motion to  allow the work to be done by the recommended company. Commissioners unanimously approved the quote.

Commissioners also approved a request by the local state guard to use the community building for training.

Guard members, who Nichols said help with the Footbridge Festival, will be allowed to use the facility providing they use soft shoes and do not damage the wooden floors. Usage was approved for six months.

There was also discussion of expected increase in heating  rates this winter. Nichols told Commissioners that if gas prices increase as much as expected, the District will not be able to pay the heating bill for the Community Building with the amount budgeted.

There was some discussion about raising the rent fees charged for the building.

A church currently using the building for services will have the option of increased rent or moving to an office in the building at a reduced rent, but with the stipulation that power and gas bills will be paid by the church. Commissioners unanimously approved the motion made by Commissioner Rudy Rhodes.

Commissioners unanimously approved a motion by  Garrett to be provided with an itemized copy of invoices/checks written which are posted to the unknown, other or miscellaneous accounts.

The next meeting of the Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners will be held on Monday October 17 at 7 p.m.

PPSD August meeting

During their August 15 meeting, Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners Chief Administrator Butch Nichols reported that details had been worked out with the Greenville County Recreation District for funding to replace windows and doors at the community building. He also stated that GCRD needs bids for the second phase of work needed on the building.

Nichols said that the fire department plans to offer fire truck rides at the Footbridge Festival which will be held from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on October 15.

Commissioner Al McAbee reported that the District responded to 47 calls in July inluding 3 structure fires, 2 grass fires, 2 vehicle fires, 7 vehicle accidents, 24 medical calls, 2 electrical fires, one mutual aid call, 3 sewer calls and 3 street light calls.

The District responded to 52 calls during June including 5 structure fires, 2 grass fires, 1 vehicle fire, 6 vehicle accidents, 27 medical calls, one electrical fire, one mutual aid call, 1 sewer call and 9 street light calls.

Chair Marsha Rogers reported that a meeting had taken place with Judy Gilstrap and GCRD to talk about additional fudning for work at the community building. She also stated a kick ball league is under consideration for the ballpark.

Commissioners then went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter.

Lions ready for Candy Day

The Williamston Lions Club will observe Lions Candy Day September 29 through October 1 as part of Lions Sight Conservation Week during the last week of September.

Lions throughout South Carolina will be handing out Sight Saver candies for donations, and selling brooms.

Funds raised during the annual event help support Lions sight conservation projects, Williamston president Dr. Dirk Graves said.

Donations on Candy Day suport a mobile health screening unit and other vision programs. Some of the funds provide scholarships for blind youth to attend Camp Leo at Hilton Head or Camp Lions Den at Clemson.

Locally, Cand Day funds support eye exams, eyeglasses and eye surgery for those in need.

Candy Day Chair Lion Ed Pascoe said that his club is “On ready. The Candy has arrived and the Lions are ready to greet you on Thursday, Friday and Saturday next week offering a roll of Sight Saver candy.

Although funds collected during Candy Days are used for sight conservation projects, Pascoe said that South Carolina Lions spend in excess of $750,000 each year on health related projects.

“Lions will become involved in any project that can help their community or provide a needed service,” President Graves said.

The Williamston Lions Club has a container at Town Square Center and at Family Vision Center to accept eyeglass donations.

County Detention Center needs expansion

By Stan Welch

In an otherwise routine County Council meeting Tuesday, a $900,000 proposal to expand the Anderson County Detention Center stood out like a bow tie in a tee shirt shop.

Detention Center Director Bob Daly appeared to explain that the County’s exploding population, up 25% on average over last year, makes expansion necessary. Daly explained that a 34 bed addition had been prepared in the main jail’s basement, using inmate labor to remodel the area.

Still, said Daly, the South Carolina Department of Corrections is fully aware of the overcrowding, and “is waiting to see what the county council does” before taking action. The proposed expansion would add 50 beds, but Daly admitted that even that is likely to be a stop gap measure. “I’ll probably be back next year asking for even more money.”

Daly said the overcrowding is the result of law enforcement doing its job. “Sheriff Crenshaw would tell this Council that his job is to fill up the jail. He’s doing a real good job of that. The courts are doing their job by convicting and sentencing these inmates. But my job is to house and feed them, and I need additional space for that.”

Daly presented a visual presentation that showed the crowded conditions; including blankets placed on a picnic table to make a bed, and inmates sleeping on pallets on the floor.

The one fact that shaped the entire discussion was Daly’s revelation that he had recently had to turn down 50 federal prisoners, due to the overcrowding. He then added that the City of Anderson currently has fifty inmates in ACDC, at no charge, while they are housing federal inmates at the city jail, at a fee of $30 a day per prisoner.

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson asked for a clarification, saying, “Madame Chair, did I understand right? We are housing inmates for the City at no cost to them, while they are housing federal inmates and making money at it?” After Chairperson Floyd’s affirmative response, all Wilson could manage was a heartfelt “Wow!”, drawing laughter from the audience.

A motion by Floyd to have County Administrator Joey Preston explore possibilities for either ending the practice of accepting municipal inmates or alternatively, to require a sharing of the revenues received by the city was tabled to allow time for more study of the issue.

Floyd pointed out that she had no problem with accepting the city’s inmates, but that the city profits from the arrangement. “Don’t ask me to baby sit your children for free so you can go baby sit somebody else’s kids for money,” said Floyd. “What’s fair about that?”

Preston reminded the Council that prior to the expansions achieved in recent years, no expansion of the original jail had occurred in 41 years. “We are going to do everything we can before we come to Council asking for more bonds for new construction,” he said.

Daly added that the main facility at ACDC is 56 years old. “We have the oldest jail in the state of South Carolina. At some point we’ll have to replace that facility.” As Floyd said, “We can pay now or pay later.”

In other business, Council gave final approval to several rezoning requests, and heard a presentation by Judge Martha Newton on a new mental health court. That program is designed to funnel certain suspects and inmates away from the regular jail system into alternative situations that would require them to obtain treatment for various mental health issues.

Preston congratulated his staff on their recent efforts to upgrade the County’s bond rating. That trip to New York has drawn criticism from some local media sources, but Preston said, “We are the seventh largest county in the state, but we have the same bond rating as the two largest counties. I congratulate my staff for that.”

Anderson County Sheriff's report

Anderson County Sheriff’s deputies investigated a number of broken car windows in the Pelzer, Piedmont and Williamston areas, according to police incident reports filed with the ACSO in the last few weeks.

At least a dozen vehicles have suffered damage, often caused by glass marbles, either being fired from a slingshot or a paintball gun. 

The most recent binge began on August 29, when a car parked at 215 Breazeale Rd. in Williamston was damaged by a round dent in the hood.

From September 4 to September 6, eight more vehicles were damaged, usually by broken windows, across the area. Several incident reports indicate that clear marbles were found either in or near the vehicles.

PELZER

Sept. 4 – A. Digirolamo received a report of a missing person from Kathrine Ingram who said her boyfriend Christopher Lance Cape had borrowed her car to go to the store for cigarettes. He called her about 8:30 p.m. and said he was headed home. She had not seen him since.

Sept. 6 - S. J. Reeves received a complaint of forgery from the SavWay at 110 Hwy. 20 in Pelzer. A check, drawn on the account of Adrienne Allen was presented for goods in the amount of $135.66. The clerk identified a white female between 40-50 years of age, 4’11", 110 pounds, blond and blue who left in a white Dodge Neon driven by a WM.

Sept. 7 – M.A. Whitfield responded to 209 Moores Mill Road, where Dixie Holliday reported the theft of a number of items from her home. She said she had recently allowed a friend of the family to stay at her house. The next day she left him there while she attended a funeral. She returned home to find her truck gone, as well as her bed, her television, her sound system, cash and debit cards and other items. The truck was a dark blue 1987 Mitsubishi, SC tag # 641RNF.

Sept. 7 – R.S. Turner received a report from Christopher Lance Cape that two black men forced him into his girlfriend’s 2004 Honda at the Travel Center and forced him to go to Greenville and to stay there against his will. His girlfriend, Kathrine Ingram, had reported him missing on Sept. 3, as listed above.

Sept. 8 – J.J. Jacobs observed a 1998 black Honda fail to use its turn signal, and he proceeded to stop the vehicle. The driver had no license but identified himself as Shone Ainsworth Davis, 29, of #2 Fuller St. He was arrested for driving under suspension and transported to ACDC.

Sept. 9 – R.A. Malone was called to 206-A Looper Road, where Oder Rayfield said he had been robbed of three guns while he was gone. He returned home to find the handle to his gun cabinet in the floor and three guns missing. The guns were a single shot Stevens 12 gauge, a Stevens double barrel 20 gauge, and a Marlin .22 rifle.

Sept. 9 - M.D. Creamer investigated a burglary at 404 Campbell Road. Stephen Cobb reported that someone broke into his storage building and removed more than $2000 worth of power tools, Bose speakers, a tiller and other electronic goods.

Sept. 9 -R. A. Malone observed a gray Olds Cutlass approaching him on Old River Road. He had been told to be on the lookout for the vehicle as its driver was known to have a suspended license. Daman Paul Strickland Jr. was arrested for DUS, non-payment of traffic tickets, property taxes and failure to provide proof of insurance . According to the report, a female subject named Panagakos was also arrested on two bench warrants from Williamston.

Sept. 9- J. M. Roberts responded to a complaint of a  stolen license tag SC #158DWS from the vehicle of Beverly Hoffman at 6 Hampton Street.   

PIEDMONT

Sept. 6 – J. J. Jacobs investigated a break-in at the Anchor Mini Storage warehouses at 101 Moore Road, where Darrin Coxson reported that his unit had been broken into and a Kuboda generator, valued at $1600 was stolen.

Sept. 6 – J. D. Shelton investigated a report of larceny at the Executive Inn at 546 McNeely Road. The manager reported that Michael Glenn, 42,  3 Miracle Drive in Greenville, had rented a room. After he checked out, a number of items were found to be missing from the room. 

Sept. 9 - Brian Parker investigated the theft of several cases of beer from the Texaco Station at 3000 Earle Morris Hwy.  The clerk reported that two black males driving a green Olds with SC tag #659TPX stole the items. The car had been stolen from Greenville County.

Sept. 10 - M. D. Creamer responded to Fred’s Discount Store at 908 Anderson Street where he arrested Chastity Durham, 24, of 17 Peden Road for shoplifting.

WEST PELZER

Sept. 6 - S. J. Reeves responded to a complaint of forgery at the SavWay on Main Street. According to the incident report, Debra Ann Blume, 40-50, of 70 Lemans Drive, Anderson, presented a check belonging to Adrienne Allen and received goods in the amount of $91.04

WILLIAMSTON

Sept. 6 – R. S. Turner investigated a report of malicious damage to property at 116 29 Court. A truck parked at Southeastern Sprinkler Company was damaged, with the windshield, windows and lights broken, and the inside and outside of the truck spray painted.

Sept.6 – R. S. Turner responded to ACE Environmental, 512 Cherokee Road, where Vickie Phillips reported that an employee’s van had been damaged, as well as one of the buildings on site. A bobcat skid loader was used in doing the damage.

Sept. 7 – A. Digirolamo investigated a case of illegal use of a telephone, in which Barbara Gillespie, of 502 Boiter Road, stated that a female had been calling her and threatening her with assault.

Mother sentenced to 20 years

Amanda Worthy pled quilty on September 15 to homicide by child abuse. The court sentenced her to twenty years suspended to twelve years of incarceration.

The Powdersville mother admitted that after drinking alcohol she had put her baby to bed and because the baby was crying, had placed a pacifier in its mouth to quiet the baby.

Autopsy results revealed that the mother had smothered the baby with the pacifier. 

 

 

 

 

 

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