News Archive

(3905) Week of Sept. 28, 2005

Week of Sept. 28, 2005

Local relief team makes a difference
Fire Chief describes relief effort
Locals help out with hurricne relief
Vet helping with hurricane relief
CSX to repair Gray Drive bridge
Pack awarded Order of Silver Crescent
Middle School programs highlight Board meeting
Powdersville land purchase raises questions
Brown campaigns for Jessica’s Law
Deputies investigate incidents in area
Williamston officers investigate gas drive-offs

Local relief team makes a difference

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy and Police Chief David Baker both said,  “You could tell we made a big difference.”

Traveling 18-20 hours from Upstate South Carolina to the Gulf shores at the tip of Louisiana, a relief team of 16 arrived at the battered town of Grand Isle.

The convoy left at midnight on Thursday September 15 with two trailer loads of supplies donated by the surrounding community. After taking a detour that added additional time to their trip, they arrived at their destination, Grand Isle, in the dark the following evening.

“They were looking for us,” Mayor Clardy said. “They were getting apprehensive that something may have happened to us.”

The relief team was met by the mayor, fire chief, police chief and other representatives of the fishing and resort island that was hard hit by hurricane Katrina.

Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle and Fire Chief Albry “T” Black were two of the men who welcomed them with a hug and according to Mayor Clardy, were “very pleased to see us.”

To get to the island, the convoy traveled over a bridge that needed repair.

Sections of the bridge had shifted and dropped, forcing vehicles to drive over 2x8 boards stacked to allow them to cross the uneven pavement. Railings on the bridge were missing.

Remarkably the bridge was repaired before they left 6 days later.

The small town of approximately 1500 residents is a fishing and resort town, relying on shrimping, crabbing, the seafood industry and the tourist industry.

Estimates by Police Chief Baker and Mayor Clardy put damage to buildings on the island at 100 percent, with  80-85 percent totally damaged and as much as 60-70 percent obliterated by the wind and storm surge, which was estimated at 18-25 feet.

Clardy and Baker, like many others, said that pictures and video can’t begin to show the amount of devastation the Gulf area has sustained.

“You couldn’t imagine a war torn area being more devastated,” Clardy said.

Clardy said town officials and some residents were depending on the relief of other small towns, churches and private donations.

They say they saw no FEMA help and very little Red Cross support other than a daily ration of Chili which “couldn’t be counted on.”

Chief Baker said that the supplies brought with them nearly doubled the supplies on hand at Grand Isle.

The island currently has about 50 people helping with cleanup and trying to begin getting town services back in order. Some residents were being allowed on the island for a day to survey damage to their property and to retrieve any items they could.

When the storm surge washed across the 7 mile long barrier island which is only about three blocks wide, it took houses, vehicles, boats, anything in its path. Even the houses that looked to be ok had water damage, Baker said.

Many of the items that floated found their way to the levy or beach, where everything from washers, dryers, refrigerators and toilets to clothes and vehicles could be found.

On the front of the Gulf beach stood vacation homes. On the back (bay side) were fishermen/residents homes, many of which were totally destroyed along with their shrimp boats and the buildings necessary to make their living.

Chief Baker said his police personnel including Randy Creamer, Jackie Swaney and Josh Barnes, helped with road blocks at the bridge leading onto the island, relieving local officials who had been on duty since the hurricane hit.

Only emergency personnel, residents, contractors and homeowners were being allowed in.

Swaney, a dispatcher, helped at the city hall command center.

“You could tell we made a big difference,” Baker said. “Allowing those people to go and check their own homes. Most had not even been able to inspect their own losses.”

“To be able to work the checkpoints, to allow them to leave, when they came back I could tell they were relieved,” Baker said. “Just by being able to check their own house. It made a big difference, allowing them to get some rest and personal needs.”

This was true for the fire personnel and others working for the town.

Mayor Clardy said he was included in meetings and discussions in which  Mayor Camardelle was acting in his official capacity, including talking with the Louisiana governor and other officials.

Clardy said during the period there were some discussions about problems associated with the bureaucracy and, other than a vehicle provided by the state, there was little else.

“They were basically separated,” Clardy said. “They had to fend for themselves.”

Clardy also said he had talked with S. C. Lt. Governor Andre Bauer about assisting with the needs of elderly of the state in conjunction with the LA Lt. Governor.

Clardy said he and the others from  Williamston helped workers and residents with cleanup and moving furniture and other items. “We helped anywhere they needed us.”

Clardy said the people of Grand Isle were very appreciative of the help being offered by the Williamston representatives.

“They were thankful for us being there, whether it was clearing brush or moving furniture. They were more concerned if we were taken care of,” Clardy said. “The mayor often brought us boiled shrimp and was worried about how we were doing.”

One thing that stood out for all of the Williamston workers was the attitude of the Grand Isle residents.

“With the attitude and demeanor of folks, you would never think they had been through the tragedy,” he said.

There were no restaurants open and the only supermarket did open, offering items that survived the storm. Receipts were being hand written.

Gas was trucked in to stations set up for vehicles to refuel.

Their biggest need is equipment for cleanup, according to Clardy.

Four wheelers were the main mode of transportation. Luckily, most of the town’s police and fire vehicles survived because they were moved to a staging area off the island and survived the storm and surge.

The area was hard hit again when Rita came ashore, with as much as a 5ft. storm surge submerging the island again.

But Clardy and Baker said they were impressed with the preseverance and determination in rebuilding.

And both men said the Town of Williamston will play a part in the rebuilding process, continuing to take donations for their new sister city in southern Louisiana.

“We promised to accept donations for as long as people gave and are still collecting,” Mayor Clardy said. Items needed remain the same as the original list.

“It was the most humbling experience  I’ve had as an official, being able to help a town,” Mayor Clardy said. “I will never see my town the same again. The blessings we  have, and the people we have. It is the people who make a community.”

Chief Baker agreed. “The determination to rebuild, determining  in their heart, that’s their town and community.”

“It’s about people, not about things,” Clardy said.

And did the donations from the Williamston area make a difference?

Baker said that when they arrived, and they unloaded the things donated from the surrounding area at home, it almost doubled the supplies at Grand Isle.

“They (the people at home) are a great bunch of folks.

The reality of our trailers being unloaded and  increasing their supplies showed the heart of our community,” Baker said.

Another emotional moment for the two communities was when the town flags were exchanged.

Clardy said he was very moved  “when they erected our flag on their flag pole, and gave us their flag that had flown during the hurricane.”

Clardy said the Grand Isle Mayor had made a promise that he would personally come and express his thanks.

“We didn’t change the world, but we made a difference. We developed a relationship with this community,” Clardy said. “The people  of Williamston area made this possible and the people of Grand Isle are very thankful.”

Williamston Fire Chief describes relief effort

By Williamston Fire Chief Steve Ellison

I will attempt to bring you up to date on our trip to Grand Isle. Four Williamston firemen traveled with the group from Williamston. Steve Ellison, Van Ellison, Tim Farmer, and Mike (Cotton) Henderson, were the firemen that made the trip. Upon our arrival at Grand Isle we were taken to their Fire Department, where we met their Chief and firemen. After a time of getting aquainted, we assumed their firefighting duties. Their firemen had been on duty 15 days straight, and some of them had not been able to return to their own homes, to see if anything was left. Joining us were two firefighters from Brownsfield La. Since there was no water, Brownsfield, had sent in a tanker truck, and their job was to supply us water should a fire occur. Our being there allowed their firemen to go and meet their family and wives that had been evacuated.

Our stay was somewhat quiet, answering calls to extinguish trash fires, where residents tried to burn, but weren’t allowed. We responded with Williamston EMS on several calls for medical help. Power crews were attempting to restore power, and one cut the end of his thumb off. A giant power line fell on one of the linemen, knocking him unconcious. We carried him about 300 yards out of a swamp. We responded to one call where a elderly man had been hit by a vehicle.

Once some of the water was restored, we began the process of flushing dirty water from the fire hydrants. While there we helped as best we could, doing everything from hauling ice to the fire department, unloading the food from the trailers that we carried, and helped in removing furniture from flooded apartments. Never in all of our lives had we seen so much destruction. We helped in setting up a landing zone when the Air National Guard was air lifted out, due to a new hurricane (Rita) that was heading their way. When we left, they were getting ready for Rita, but at least we gave them a few days of rest.

Williamston EMS sent Joe Barr, and Mike Powell, both of them are Paramedics, and they did a super job there.

This is the most rewarding thing I have ever been a part of. Never in my life, had I seen everything that people own, scattered so far. Most everyone there now have nothing. Everything is gone. The whole town will need to be rebuilt. We left Grand Isle 22 days after Katrina hit, and FEMA still had not shown up when we left.

The people of Williamston are to be commended, for all that we carried to these people, and the people of Grand Isle are very thankful for what has been done.

Locals help out with hurricne relief

Joe Barr, Administrator of the Williamston EMS, was one of the sixteen people who traveled to Grand Isle. It is a visit he will clearly never forget. He and fellow paramedic Michael Powell provided additional medical expertise and four extra hands, a need Barr says is one of the most pressing in the affected areas.

“John Kirwin, who we worked with, is the only full time medic on Grand Isle, even during regular times. He has been working practically non-stop since the storm, handling about ten times the calls he usually sees. He is flat worn out, and hasn’t seen his own wife since Katrina came through.”

Kirwin’s wife evacuated their home in hard hit St. Bernard’s Parish; moving inland, but leaving John behind. Barr and Powell covered Kirwin’s calls for two days so he could go to his home and at least assess and record the damage. It was complete, said Barr. “He saved a couple of personal items, but his house was destroyed. The water rose to within inches of the ceiling.”

Still, Kirwin perseveres; a trait that both Barr and Williamston Water Department Supervisor Tim Hood said is a common one. “Those folks are just so determined to rebuild,” said Hood. “It just is beyond words, to see their mind set, in spite of the tremendous damage and their loss of everything they owned.”

Barr agreed, saying that the people of the fishing village that is Grand Isle are a different, but hardy breed. “Their culture is so different from ours here, but they are good people, and strong people. Rita came through and undid a lot of the cleanup that had been accomplished. So many people would just quit and move on, but not these folks. They really deserve our help.”

Barr hopes to not only continue general humanitarian efforts to help the town; but also wants to focus on their emergency medical needs. “They need several things badly, but more than anything else, they need trained, experienced manpower. Those guys are working so hard, but they are so exhausted. Just a few days rest would mean so much to them, and that includes firemen and law enforcement. They need a break.”

Even more than the incredible destruction, which both men agree cannot be captured by mere television images, it was the spirit of the people which made the greatest impression. “They were actually concerned about making sure we were comfortable, and had everything we needed. Man, we were there to help them out, and they were worrying about us. But they just keep a sense of humor and go on. None of them talk about leaving or giving up. Grand isle is their home, and they mean to build it back bigger and better,” said Hood.

Barr found the same determination, saying, “We made good friends down there. They are good people, and I can’t wait to see them when they get back on their feet. That’ll be a great day.”

Vet helping with hurricane relief

Williamston representatives were not the only locals helping provide hurricane relief in Louisianna last week.

When thousands of people evacuated the New Orleans area, they left behind thousands of animals, many of which are being housed in temporary shelters throughout Louisiana.

Local veterinarian Dr. James Bulloch, traveled to Serrento/Gonzales near Baton Rouge to help provide relief at one of those animal shelters.

Bulloch, a native of northern Louisiana, along with wife Jackie, Flether Barker and Rhonda Burrell traveled 14 hours to the shelter and brought back 22 dogs which will be adopted through the efforts of an organization in Connecticut.

The relief adoption effort was coordinated with an organization called Lab Rescues, which helps find homes for lab or lab mixed pets.

Homes have already been found for 16 of the 22 animals brought back, which Bulloch said he will transport to Virginia where they will be given to representatives of Lab Rescues who will take the animals to their new homes.

Of the 22 dogs brought back by Bulloch, most were adults, though some were smaller, he said.

Each of the animals has been spayed or neutered, microchipped and given all shots, according to Bulloch who donated his time and services. Technology allows microchipped animals to be identified should they become lost or displaced, he said.

One of the animals brought back was a pit bull. “She was pitiful. She had been on a roof for 10-12 days,” Bulloch said. “Her feet were blistered.” Bulloch said this was typical for many of the animals rescued. Many pets were also dropped off by their owners as they evacuated the area.

The temporary shelter in Louisiana is housing 1000s of animals, Bulloch said, including dogs, cats, horses, pigs, goats and other animals.

Animals brought to the shelter have been digitally photographed and placed on a website, petfinders.com, for their owners to hopefully claim. Beginning October 1, if unclaimed, as many as 5,000 animals will be placed for adoption.

Bulloch also took much needed supplies to the area including Clorox, vaccines, ear and eye medicines, food and water. His suppliers have donated supplies and many supplies that were taken from his shelves.

According to Bulloch, local veterinarians in the area were helping out with the relief at night, but were eventully relieved themselves by a staff of 300 volunteers.

“They were very well organized,” Bulloch said. “They had a whole team from out of town.”

Dr. Bulloch said he may return to the area in October to bring another group of unclaimed animals back to South Carolina.

Anyone interested in adopting a pet displaced by the hurricane or helping with donations of food or other items can call the Palmetto Animal Clinic in Willliamston at 864-847-7678.

CSX to repair Gray Drive bridge

By Stan Welch

Fourteen years after safety concerns closed the Gray Drive Bridge, Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy has announced that repairs on that bridge will begin in mid November.

Mayor Clardy, in announcing the development, also announced the official groundbreaking for a major project to repair and replace much of the town’s existing sidewalks. Saying that “Progress is upon us,” Clardy, accompanied by Sen. Billy O’Dell, State Rep. Michael Thompson, District 7 County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and Town Councilman Otis Scott, added that he feels the town is entering a period of progress that will show up in many ways.

“Some long overdue projects are finally coming around,” said Clardy. “When I first campaigned for mayor, that bridge was one of my priorities. I am thrilled to see it finally being done.”

The bridge was closed by CSX in 1991 following concerns by area residents about safety issues. Despite promises by the company to repair the bridge, and persistent efforts by local citizens, such as Pam Owens and Darlene Smith, the bridge remains closed, at least for a few more weeks.Both women were on hand at the Mayor’s invitation, in acknowledgment of their efforts.

The efforts of Owens and Smith were also acknowledged by Sen. O’Dell and Rep.Thompson, who told the women that without their efforts the project would never have succeeded. Sen O’Dell was in the General Assembly when the bridge was originally closed, and has worked diligently to bring the situation to a successful conclusion. Thompson took office the same year as Clardy, and jokingly referred to their cooperative efforts to bring the bridge project to fruition.

A lawsuit filed by Anderson County and the Town of Williamston, in May of 2004 was apparently the wedge that broke the logjam concerning the bridge. Regardless, Clardy reported that CSX representatives had been to town to inform him of the pending repairs.

“They will be repairing the existing bridge,” said Clardy, “which isn’t all we had hoped for, but sometimes, you have to take what is there. The bridge will have to be brought up to code, which is a significant improvement over what was required in 1928, when it was built.”

Key among the improvements will be a bridge wide enough to accommodate school buses and emergency vehicles, concerns that have fed the desire to see the repairs.

Councilman Scott, who represents Ward 4, where the bridge is located, said he was just glad to see it becoming a reality. “This has gone on long enough. I’m pleased to see it happen.”

Also on hand was Barbara Levy, widow of Brian Levy, whose fall from his wheelchair because of the condition of the town’s sidewalks was the beginning of the sidewalk project. Mrs. Levy, who is also disabled and uses a scooter for mobility, helped heft the sledge hammer used to attack a section of the sidewalk scheduled to be replaced.

That project will result in the repair or replacement of sections from Hamilton Street to Anderson Drive. In addition to repairs and replacement of damaged sections, handicap accessibility will also be enhanced by the pouring of ramp sections where needed. The $225,000 cost of the project, designed by Dunn & Associates, and installed by Wham Bros., is being paid by grant monies obtained by the town.

Joe Pack awarded Order of Silver Crescent

Longtime school board member and community servant Joe Pack was honored for his service when he was presented the Order of the Silver Crescent on Thursday, September 22.

The State’s highest honor for community service was presented by Senator Billy O’Dell and Rep. Michael Thompson on behalf of Governor Mark Sanford.

Pack was honored with remarks from several citizens and school officials he has worked with during his 38 years on the Anderson District One School Board.

Granddaughter Meagan Pack welcomed guests and introduced Pack and Margaret, his wife of 55 years.

Rev. Michael Harvell said he was a family man, and the man you see “is the same one we see at home.” “He loves holidays and loves to get together with family,” Harvell said.

Cheddar resident Teresa Morgan said she was proud and honored to have known him for 27 years. She related some of his accomplishments which included serving in the U. S Army and in Korea for which he received a bronze star. He was a master sergent in the army reserves.

Morgan said Pack has been very  active in the community, including being a member of the Cheddar Fire Department since the 1960s, and a member of Cedar Grove Baptist Church where he is a deacon.

“He has always been a leader in our community,” she said.

Morgan related how Pack is always there when needed, and on a personal note, how he had helped her during the death of her father.

Career and Technology Center Director Dr. Jere Kirkley said Pack exemplifies success and has been a “contribution to his fellow man.”

Pack served on the Career and Technology Center Board since its inception, 30 years ago.

According to Kirkley, through that time, the CTC has doubled in size and the board has allowed the center to continue to update equipment and the facility and equipment to meet the needs of the students and community.

The center has gone from serving several 100 students to 1,400 and more than 1000 adults, Kirkley said.

“This is a direct result of Joe Pack’s committment and service to the Career Center,” he said.

School District One Assistant Superintendent David Havird pointed out that in addition to serving 38 years on the District One school board, Pack has served on the CTC board, and the Anderson County Alternative School Board.

“He has handled these responsibilities with efficiency and experience which has helped build our system to one of the finest in the state,” Havird said. “He is always striving for the best for students, teachers and the community,” Havird said.

Former District One Superintendent George Seaborn said that the award was “deserved and well earned.

“Joe Pack represented you and the children of this school district with great success.”

Seaborn said Pack always represented the Cedar Grove area well, as well as Powdersville and all areas of the District.

District One’s John Pruitt said  when he asks “how is your family, he really means it.”

“He seemingly cares for everyone, especially the citizens of this community, more specifically for the children,” Pruitt said.

District One Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler said Pack always worked for the best interest of the children of District One.

“He is someone you can work with. He reasons through a problem and it is always what is best for the children.”

Fowler said he exemplifies a servant leader. When a situation or problem arises, he says, “Let’s do it together. What can we do to get it done.”

“This is an admirable quality in this time,” Fowler said. Fowler thanked Pack on behalf of 1000’s of students who have gone through the district under his tenure on the Board.

After hearing from the speakers, Pack spoke to those in attendance.

“This is a surprise. It is an honor and a priviledge to be here tonight and for me to serve on the school board,” he told the crowd of family, friends and former co-workers.

“I have served with some wonderful people on this board and in the past.”

Pack thanked his wife Margaret and family for “letting me serve when I needed to be home.”

“It is an honor to receive this award,” he said.

Middle School programs highlight Board meeting

During their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Anderson School District One Board of Trustees saw a presentation on a grant project that has created an interest in learning for sixth graders at Palmetto Middle School and a short video that was taken from an SCETV program highlighting Wren Middle School.

Before the presentations, Director of Elementary Education Jane Harrison highlighted several academic achievement results the District has obtained recently including being ranked in the top four school districts in the state on PACT and first in the state in ELA.

The District also exceeded the national average on SAT by 9 points and the state by 44 points with a 48 point increase over the past five years. ACT and HSAP scores place the District in the top five in the state.

Palmetto Middle School teacher Carol Brooks said a three year Environmental as Integrating Content (EIC) grant allows the school to have a program that integrates field trips that focus on environmental studies with curriculum areas for sixth graders.

Brooks said the program is taking the students well above what is expected. “We expect it and they do it,” she said.

The program results in the EIC team becoming family as students and teachers bond through shared learning experiences. “The successes have brought us together as a team,” she said.

PACT scores have also increased from the effort she said.

Teacher Andra Looper said one reason was that the students enjoy being in school. “They like coming to school,” she said.

The EIC team combines hands on learning with science, language and math and social studies with field trips to places like Sassafras Mountain, Jones Gap and the SC Aquarium.

Board members were also shown a portion of the SCETV special featuring Wren Middle which recently aired on SCETV. The presentation featured principal Robin Fulbright, and others, discussing how initiatives at Wren Middle have made the school successful. Several students and teachers were featured in the program.

Following the presentation, Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler said, “They earned it through their studetn achievement results.” The school has been Palmetto Gold Recipients for several years.

Segments of the show will be combined into a program that will be aired on SCETV and nationally on October 5 from 9-11 p.m. The nationwide piece will focus on making schools work, Fowler said.

In other business, Board members unanimously approved first reading on changes in the District policy manual related to rehiring of persons coming off the TERI retirement program or who are already retired.

Wording in the policy states the district supports rehiring retired emloyees as needed and in the best interest of the District and that these persons are hired as at-will employees, with no official contract, but with a letter of agreement.

Changes also include changes in leave and absences policy, spelling out a payout for unused leave or vacation days and increasing the payout for persons with accumulated leave from $10 for 10 years and $20 for 20 years by $10.

The Board designated Joe Pack, Dale Martin and Nancy Upton as delegates to the Delegate Assembly of the South Carolina School Board Association meeting in December.

The Board also unanimously approved a federal funding resolution asking for support of increased federal funding for special education and Title 1 which local schools are having to fund, through local tax increases.

The resolution asks Congress to provide at least $2 billion in public education funding for 2006 for Title 1 and IDEA.

The resolution will be sent to congressmen and senators representing S. C.

The board unanimously approved personnel recommendations of Dr. Fowler.

Included were leave of absence -  Edwina Dorsey, West Pelzer Elementary Grade 1; Pat Roase, Wren Elementary, Grade 1.

Recommendation - Kristi Underwood, Powdersville Middle, Grade 6 math.

Powdersville land purchase raises questions

By Stan Welch

News of the purchase of 44.48 acres of land by Anderson County earlier this year came as a surprise to several members of the County Council.

According to a series of recent telephone interviews, Council members Thompson, McAbee, and Tolly all professed having no knowledge of the transaction, which took place in April of this year. That transaction resulted in the County’s purchase of almost 49 acres of land along the Saluda River, where old Highway 81 crosses the river. Public records at the Register of Mesnes Conveyance office reveal that the land cost $527,620, including seven buildings. Preliminary reports indicate that two of the buildings were homes, while the others were various outbuildings.

The land was sold by D.C. Spearman, and lies just inside the county line, in the district of Councilman Bill Dees.

The Journal contacted the Council members in an effort to determine what the intended use of the property is. Member after member expressed surprise at being told of the purchase.

County Council Chairwoman Gracie Floyd offered the possibility that the transaction may have been related to an effort by the County to attract minor league baseball to the area earlier this year. A review of Council minutes indicates that the presentation to Council by Mandalay Properties, Inc. was made at the January 18 meeting. No further formal arrangements were made between the Council and Mandalay, as a minor league franchise committed to a location elsewhere in the Upstate area well before the April 13 date of the land sale.

A more extensive review of Council meeting minutes for this year shows no formal vote to approve the purchase, or to authorize any county employee to pursue the transaction.  Councilman Fred Tolly said, “When did they buy it? I didn’t realize they bought it. Maybe council approved it, but I don’t recall it.” He added that if it was in the 2004 budget, he might have approved the budget, but he did not recall any specific vote on the transaction.

Both McAbee and Thompson expressed their surprise at learning of the purchase, as well, but added that if it were included in the 2004-2005 budget, they would have been unaware of it, since neither was on the council at the time. Thompson said, “I didn’t even know they had bought it. If they’re using county taxpayers’ money to buy it, it seems like a formal vote would be required. If grant money is being used, perhaps it would not.”  A request by The Journal for information about the funding source, and other details of the transaction, went unanswered by the county administrator’s office.

McAbee said that he had just recently become aware of the purchase; nor did he recall any vote to purchase the property. “I’ll have to do a little more research on that. I’ve just learned about it lately.”

Councilman Larry Greer, when asked what the County intended to do with the land, said “I have no comment at all.” When asked if the lack of comment referred to the use of the land or its purchase, he repeated, “I have no comment at all.” That was also his response when asked if he recalled any vote to approve the purchase.

The county’s intended use of the land was one of the details not supplied by the administrator’s office. In fact, no one seemed to know why the property was purchased. There have been rumors of a soccer facility in the Powdersville area for several months, but Councilman Dees has continued to refuse to confirm or deny those rumors. That refusal continued when he declined to comment for this report. His refusal to comment applied also to a question concerning any vote to authorize the purchase.

Brown campaigns for Jessica’s Law

By Stan Welch

An Anderson businessman and activist, Brooks Brown, IV launched a campaign to strengthen state laws related to child kidnapping and molesting last week.

The campaign, inspired in part by a similar drive by national television celebrity Bill O’Reilly, seeks to establish “Jessica’s Law”, and would require 25 years without parole for anyone convicted of a first offense of molesting and/or kidnapping a child 13 years or younger.

Standing on the steps of the Anderson County Courthouse, Brooks said the state’s 14 year old age of consent determined where he drew the line. After their release from prison, the perpetrator would be required to wear a GPS locator device for the rest of their life. Removal of the device would result in subsequent imprisonment. A second offense would result in life in prison without parole.

It is Brown’s goal to acquire 500,000 signatures on petitions in the next three months, ending on December 15. State Rep. Brian White, who was also on hand, is planning to sponsor the legislation, along with Sen. Kevin Bryant.

Asked why he took this step, Brown said “Someone has to start. Our children are at risk and these predators need to be caught, and severely punished for their deeds. Sexual predators are virtually impossible to rehabilitate, so it makes sense to keep them off the streets as much as possible.

Brown pointed out that there are 261 registered sex offenders in Anderson county, adding that a former ACSO deputy has recently been charged in connection with sexual misconduct with a 14 year old girl.

Brown said that those wishing to support the legislation can do so in a number of ways. They can send a letter or postcard, saying simply “I support Jessica’s law” to P.O. Box 455, Anderson, SC 29622, or send an e-mail to Isupportjessica’slaw@earthlink.net.

Deputies investigate incidents in area

Anderson County Sheriff’s deputies investigated a number of thefts and other incidents in the area. Among incidents investigated:

PELZER

T.L. Porter responded to Spearman Elementary School to investigate a report of a weapon on the school grounds. A knife was confiscated from the backpack of a student, whose name is being withheld. The issue is being handled by the school due to the student’s young age.

Sept. 20 – T.B. Dugan received a report of a missing person. Ronald Holbrooks reported his wife, Phoebe Holbrooks missing, saying that he had not seen her since Sept. 18. Holbrooks is described as a WF, 39, 5’6", 140 pounds, brn/brn.

Sept. 22 – Brian Parker received a complaint of burglary and malicious damage to property. The victim was Ronald Tinsley, owner of Tinsley’s Towing at 1055 Easley Highway. Three wreckers were damaged and more than $4500 worth of radios, tools and other items were stolen.

Sept. 23- A. Digirolamo stopped a vehicle on Ballard Road. The driver, David Lee Lollis, was found to be driving under suspension and was transported to the ACDC.

Sept. 25 – D.L. Barton responded to 240 Smith Drive where Thomas Rosshirt reported that he had a trespass notice against his son, Chris Rosshirt, who had returned to the residence and was refusing to leave. Barton confirmed the trespass notice and arrested the younger Crosshirt.

PIEDMONT

 Sept.21 – D. E. Tench was conducting a routine building check when he observed a black vehicle parked near a vacant building on Hwy. 153 and Cooper Road. He questioned the two white males in the vehicle. Their behavior made him suspicious, leading to a search of the men and their vehicle. Leo Heuser, a WM, 22, 6’2", 150 pounds, blk/brn, of Travelers Rest, and brn, pounds, brn/arrested for trafficking methamphetamine, possession of a firearm during a crime and public disorderly conduct. Joshua Winfree, WM, 20, 5’8", 150 was charged with public disorderly conduct.

Sept. 23 – A. Digirolamo responded to The Executive Inn at 546 McNeely Road. Kelley Lafoy, Greenville, was loud and disorderly, and told the officer he had been drinking and taking drugs. He was arrested and transported to ACDC.

Sept.24 – M.A. Whitfield responded to Wren High School where he found a window broken out and a classroom vandalized.

Sept. 24 – A. Digirolamo assisted the West Pelzer Police during a hot pursuit of a vehicle which ended when the driver pulled into his residence on Liberty Circle approximately a mile over the line into Greenville County.

WILLIAMSTON

Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a series of burglaries in the Williamston area. At least five burglaries have been reported in the last week.

Sept.24 – W.T. Cunningham responded to a report of arson at 101 Willow Road. Joe Perry reported that a tow truck driver who was passing by came to his door to tell him that he  had seen a WM 14-18 years old running from the garage area near Perry’s home. He also noticed a decorative flag attached to the house was on fire.

Sept.23 – T.B. Dugan investigated a complaint of assault and battery at D102 Massachusetts Bay Rd. Priscilla Turner reported that her boyfriend had slapped her and pulled her hair. The officer reported that he spoke to a roommate who was very belligerent, and had to be temporarily detained. He was eventually released and warrants are being sought for the boyfriend.

Sept. 25 – A. Digirolamo made a traffic stop on Hwy. 29 near the Jockey Lot. Stacy Holcombe, 38, WM, of 107 Indigo Hill Dr., was arrested for DUS and simple possession of marijuana

Sept. – D.P. Hodges was called to 152 Calm Cove Drive to investigate a complaint by Elena Parral that she had paid $4400 to Alberto Torres to help her obtain a tourist’s visa for her family to visit during the Christmas Holidays. He had done nothing to help her and had left the address he gave her. A check with Mauldin police revealed that he is being sought on several similar complaints.

Williamston officers investigate gas drive-offs

Williamston police officers investigated several gas drive-offs and other incidents recently. Among incidents investigated:

Sept. 23 - Fast Fuel, 207 W. Main St., Williamston, reported a gas drive off in which a white female pumped $30 in gas into a dark Honda and drove off without paying. J. T. Bauer, Capt. K. P. Evatt investigated.

Sept. 22 - William Christopher Phillips, 21, 243 T. C. Bannister Rd., Belton, was arrested for public disorderly conduct and simple possession of marijuana after police officers were dispatched to the Clock Drive-in on East Main St. Sgt. Z. E. Gregory, Capt. K. P. Evatt investigated.

McDonald’s, 4 West Main St., Williamston reported $20 in damage to a wall and tables which had writing in green and black marker.  Sgt. Z. E. Gregory investigated.

Sept. 24 - Carl Andrew Wardlaw, 42, 110 Gossett Dr., Apt., A-2, Williamston, was arrested for disorderly conduct after being observed entering McDonald’s with a 3” metal pipe which he stated he had for protection. Sgt. A. B. Singleton investigated.

Sept. 25 - Christy Michelle Owens, 29, 102 Tripp St., Williamston, reported being assaulted by two females in her yard. Sgt. A. B. Singleton , P. D. Marter investigated.

Sept. 24 - Marzelle LaDonna Holt, 55, 5 West Carolina St., Williamston, reported an attempted break-in at the residence. Forced entry was attempted by kicking a door causing $150 in damage. Sgt. A. B. Singleton, P. D. Marter investigated.

Sept. 20 - Sylvia Jean Ellison, 64, 305 W. Main St., Williamston, reported a 1998 Ford Ranger truck valued at $3,500 taken from her residence. Sgt. A. B. Singleton, P. D. Marter investigated.

Sept. 20 - Jesus MagDaleno San Pedro Gomes, 24, 108 Ryan St., Easley, was arrested for no drivers license and speeding after a Dodge Dakota was observed travelling at a high rate of speed on Anderson Drive. Lt. J. T. Motes investigated.

Sept. 19 - Leroy Michael Strickland, 37, 110 W. Third St., Williamston reported a racing cart engine valued at $1,200 stolen from an unsecure shed at the residence. P. D. Marter investigated.

Sept. 7 - Willie Wright, 1 School St., Williamston, reported $600 in damage to windows at the Caroline Community Center. P. D. Marter, R. D. Brownlee investigated.

Sept. 14 - Shirley E. Harrison, 63 Woodmere Dr., Williamston, reported a tag valued at $10 stolen from her vehicle. P. D. Marter investigated.

Sept. 13 - P&M Store, 620 Greenville Dr., Williamston, reported a gas drive off in which $20 in fuel was pumped into a Honda, which drove off. The vehicle had a stolen tag. P. D. Marter investigated.

Sept. 14 - Antonia Mosso Velez, 30, 116 Tripp St., Williamston, was arrested for no drivers license after a  red Chevrolet was observed driving in an erratic manner on Anderson Dr. P. D. Marter, R. D. Brownlee investigated.

Sept. 16 - Kelly Fredricka Welborn, 38, 7013 Midway Rd., Williamston, was arrested for driving under suspension after a 1986 vehicle was observed with a broken windshield. Capt. K. P. Evatt investigated.

Sept. 20 - Betty Johnson, 67, 1 West 3rd St., Williamston, reported items valued at $925 taken from her residence including a Vivitar camera, Samsung digital camera and two onyx rings with diamonds in the center. P. D. Marter investigated.

July 22 - Carolyn M. Ellenburg, 60, 110 Foster Rd., Williamston, reported a hit and run incident in which the driver of a vehicle left the scene after causing $2,000 in damage to her vehicle in the West Main Parking lot. C. J. Sanders investigated.

 

 

 

 

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