News Archive

Week of Oct. 6, 2004

Williamston Council sets 2005 budget worksessions
Council hears citizen comments
Lt. Governor Bauer, Senator O’Dell in area
Piedmont gearing up for Footbridge Festival October 15 & 16
Neel announces platform for Williamston mayor
County could get new outdoor shopping mall

Williamston Council sets 2005 budget worksessions

During their regular monthly meeting Monday, Mayor Phillip Clardy announced that he wants Council to hold budget workshops every two weeks between now and Dec. 6 and he also wants council to consider changing the calendar year the town operates under.

Clardy suggested having workshops at two week intervals beginning Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. and then Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. He also suggested rescheduling the November 1 regular meeting to Nov. 22.

 First reading on the new 2005 budget will be held at the Nov. 22 meeting, Clardy said. Second reading will be held at the Dec. 6 meeting of Council. The schedule will also allow an additional meeting to be scheduled if necessary, he said.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Williamston resident Larry Strom presented information to Council stating the town borrowed money on numerous occassions between 1974 and 1999.

After making the presentation which included year by year figures, Strom stated,  “If it was so right then, why is it so wrong now?”

He also brought up the mayor’s vehicle and credit card and challenged council to discuss the issues and set guidelines for their use.

Strom then addressed street talk which he said is part rumor and part truth and referred to letters published in The Journal last week which mention the mayor’s car, personal use of town vehicles, the town credit card and the GWBA. “It is time for this to stop,” he said.

Strom also challenged The Journal to host a debate for the local candidates.

In other business, council unanimously approved second reading on an ordinance authorizing an increase in the telecommunications fee. The fee will increase from . 75 to 1 percent and will bring in an additional $1,000 in revenue, mayor Clardy said. Councilman Greg Cole was not present for the meeting.

Clardy announced the next meeting of the Anderson County Municipal Association which will be held October 14 in Belton.

Clardy also announced a fall festival and costume ball to be held October 30 at the Williamston Municipal Center and a Veterans Day program scheduled for Nov. 11.

Clardy said the fall festival  will “offer recreation here at our facilities.”

He also said that the town will announce when it will recognize Halloween. He said it will either be Saturday Oct. 30 or Sunday Oct. 31, depending on when the County will recognize it.

The veterans day program will be held at the Veterans Memorial on Minor St. and will include Palmetto High School Jr. ROTC march, a guest speaker and recognition of memorial names.

Council also approved minutes from meetings held Sept. 13, Sept. 20 and Sept. 27.

During Council comments, Councilman Cecil Cothran asked the mayor to make it clear to department heads  that there is to be “No overtime unless absolutely necessary.”

Councilman Wade Pepper requested a copy of the audio tape of the meeting.

Councilman Cothran requested an itemized report of money spent by the town each month.

In response to Cothran’s request, Mayor Clardy said he would provide the check register to council.

The mayor also said he is in agreement that there needs to be rules and regulations in place.

“Not just in the items you mentioned, but in a lot of areas,” he said.

Clardy said the town has a number of personnel policies that they work from in each department and that they each of them needs to be addressed and updated. He said they could be addressed in work sessions and that the budget offered  the best opportunity to address them.

Cothran then stated that the credit card and town car issues should be put to rest.

“Nothing would please me more,” the mayor said.

Council hears citizen comments

During a special called meeting held Sept. 27, Williamston Town council heard from residents Robert Vaughn, Connie Strom and Larry Strom.

Robert Vaughn and Mayor Phillip Clardy then had a lengthy discussion about several issues which Vaughn brought up including use of city vehicles, police being called to the auditorium during the open government forum and responses to FOI questions he submitted.

Clardy said he had answered every question Vaughn has asked.

“I will work with you any way I possibly can to the betterment of this town,” Clardy told Vaughn.

The discussion lasted approximately 20 minutes.

Resident Connie Strom said she would like to see the council work together.

She said she would like to see each councilman do, “Not what’s best for himself, but to realize the responsibilities bestowed upon you. It is time to do what is expected,” she said.

 “Council has the responsibility to do what will make our town be the best it can be,” she said.

Larry Strom challenged The Journal to sponsor a forum or debate for the mayor and council candidates.

“There is too much talk,”Strom said, “We need to know the truth before we vote.”

Strom then pointed out budget deficits the town experienced between 1992 and 1998.

“The town has operated in the red for the last 12 years,” Strom said.

Strom also challenged members of Council to make a motion during a meeting rather than making comments following the meeting or out in public.

“Council chambers are for council business,” Strom said. “Everybody else can get it on the street. It needs to be done right here,” he said.

Following the comments, Council then discussed and approved second reading on the BAN note authorizing the town to borrow $350,000.  ( See story in Sept. 29 issue of The Journal or online at www.thejournalonline.com.)

(Interested readers may also want to read comments made by Gary Bannister and responses by Mayor Clardy during the public comments portion of a meeting held Sept. 20. This story is also available online at www.thejournalonline.com.)

Lt. Governor Bauer, Senator O’Dell in area

South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer travelled throughout the area Tuesday along with Senator Billy O’Dell who is seeking reelection to the Senate.

Bauer joined the Senator during the daylong campaign swing through the area which included meeting with local officials in Piedmont, Pelzer, Williamston, Belton and Honea Path.

Their first stop was at the Piedmont Fire Department where they met with Piedmont Commissioners and Fire Department personnel.

They then travelled down Hwy. 20 to meet with Pelzer and West Pelzer officials at the Pelzer Community Building. West Pelzer Police Chief J. L. Barnes and Water and Sewer supervisor Brad West were among those attending. Pelzer Town Administrator Skip Watkins was also in attendance.

At the Williamston Municipal Center local officials and business owners including Williamston Mills Plant Manager Gerald Miles, Greater Williamston Business Association President and MVP owner Dave Maddox, Ace Hardware owner Jim Simpson and others were present.

Bauer said that he and O’Dell know the mayors of the area and will always take their calls.

He also said that he and O’Dell have built friendships among themselves and with others and that networking provides benefits that help get things done.

Bauer said when he was a freshman Senator he first thought that term limits were a good thing. However, he said that having senority does help get things accomplished and that is a benefit to have Sen. O’Dell representing the area.

“The more I’ve seen, the benefits of senority and how the process works,” he said. “It makes things happen.”

While endorsing O’Dell, Bauer also promoted additional duties which have been assigned to the Lt. Governors office.

In addition to presiding over 46 senators, Bauer said the office now includes broader duties with the new Lt. Governors Office On Aging.

Bauer said the office is involved  in issues which have anything to do with seniors.

Piedmont gearing up for Footbridge Festival October 15 & 16

A shagging contest, tug-of-war and free children’s activity area are among several new events being planned for the Piedmont Footbridge Festival which will be held October 15 and 16 in downtown Piedmont.

The Friday night kick-off celebration, scheduled for  6-10 p.m. Oct. 15, will feature the Reflections band playing oldies, beach and light rock music.

The band has been featured several times at “Rhythm On The River” at the Peace Center amphitheater in downtown Greenville, as well as area festivals and private functions. Admission is free.

A shag contest will be held at approximately 8 p.m. as part of the Friday night kickoff. Prizes will include a two night stay at the Blockade Runner Hotel in Myrtle Beach. Shaggers interested in competing in the event can contact Carolyn Reeves at 845-6693.

Saturday activities will feature arts and crafts, food, an antique show and sale, antique appraisal fair, children’s entertainment area, vintage car show and musical entertainment by local talent.

A  tug of war between residents of Anderson County and residents of Greenville County is also being planned.

Interested participants can sign up at the festival information booth before 11:30 a.m. on festival day. There is a $1 entry fee which will go back to the community.

To pre-register call Paige Crawford at (864)244-3435 or Tracy Harvey at (864)845-9815.

The seventh annual BAC Street car show will include top awards along with specialty awards, giveaways and numerous door prizes.

The car show includes a variety of entries including street rods, classic, custom and antique cars and trucks.

Anyone interested in entering the show should contact Larry or Lynn Helms at (864) 277-7264 for information or entry forms.

The Piedmont Fire Department will be offering a ride on one of their fire trucks both days of the festival.

The festival will also feature a chili cookoff for the second year.

Chili cooking begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Prominent upstate personalities will judge the event beginning at 1 p.m. Festival goers will be able to sample the recipes after the judging for $1 which includes chips and a drink. Who has the best chili in Piedmont? Come find out for yourself!

The Antique show and sale will be held in the Piedmont Community Building gym on Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you have antiques pieces that you would like to know the value of, bring them for a professional appraisal.

Contact Jane McClain at 845-6605 for more information.

Children’s games and activities are  planned for younger children in a new free children’s activity area at this year’s festival.

Main stage entertainment will be located under a huge tent with seating and tables for the convenience of visitors.

The stage will include a variety of performers including gospel, rock and roll and classic music.

“Daytime,” a male barbershop quartet, will sing a variety of music in barbershop 4-part harmony style, swing, gospel, etc. and even some comedy.

Footbridge Festival limited edition prints, T-shirts, sweatshirts and Piedmont High School handpainted plaques will be available for sale at the Bonnes Amies Club souvenir booth.

The Piedmont Bonnes Amies club sponsors the annual event, which has generated more than $65,000  used to improve and beautify the community.

The date was moved from April to October to  take advantage of fall weather, organizers said.

For more information contact: Marketplace Booth, Jane Carpenter 845-6803; Concession Booth, Maxie Freeman 244-3435 or 845-6372; Exhibits, Joy Clark 845-5771 or 901-5366; Antique Show and Sale, Jane McClain 845-6605 or 269-0950; Antique Appraisal Fair, Jane McClain 845-6605 or 269-0950; Numbered prints/High School Plaques, Jessalene Watson 845-6686; Main Stage, Betty White 845-5543; Children’s activities, Tammy Smith 845-9604 or 601-8613; Tug-of-war, Brian Harvey 845-9815 or Brent Greer 845-6177; Shag contest, Carolyn Reeves 845-6693 or 282-1840 ext. 222; Car show, Lynn and Larry Helms 277-7264 or 845-5458; Chili cookoff, Sandie Garrison 845-3404 or 467-7044.

Neel announces platform for Williamston mayor

Williamston could see some changes under the leadership of John C. Neel should the local educator take the helm of municipal government.

Announcing his platform for mayor, the lifelong Williamston resident says, “My goal is to restore financial stability, integrity, and harmony to our town. I want to make people proud to be a part of Williamston.”

“I am seeking the office for no other reason than to serve our town and do the best I can to rid it of its present unstable situation,” he offers.

Neel explains that he decided to run for mayor after many citizens encouraged him to run. He said that if elected he plans to continue his teaching career and work as a part-time mayor.

The 58-year-old teacher has been in education for a total of 25 years and now teaches eighth grade at Palmetto Middle School.

“We have competent people to run the town, and I don’t see a need for a mayor to stay down there all the time,” Neel says.

At the same time, Neel emphasizes that he will make all final decisions after collecting input and information on town issues. “I’m going to run it,” he vows.

Neel further explains that he worked as a municipal judge for seven years and continued to teach during that time period with no apparent conflicts.

If elected, Neel also plans to eliminate the vehicle currently furnished to the mayor. “My 1985 Toyota truck runs well enough to get me from point A to point B, and this act would be an immediate cut in the unnecessary spending in our town,” he says.

Neel would also stop the use of police vehicles for personal transportation and would put a freeze on hiring and study the present employee situation.

“I will also protect the employees of Williamston by making timely payments of all benefits and earnings,” he adds.

Neel further advises that he “will have the council approve major credit card purchases and provide them with monthly credit card statements.”

“I would have an open government with a staff to provide clear and honest answers to any questions our citizens may have,” he states.

Neel emphasizes that there are several things he will not do as mayor. 

“I will not point my finger and cast blame at any of my predecessors whether previous mayors or councilmen,” he promises.

He also adds that he will not have an inaugural ball if elected and will not abuse the power of the office of mayor.

Neel professes a strong love for the local community and admits that he has lived in Williamston virtually all his life. His family moved to Williamston when Neel was only three months old, and his father worked as a highway patrolman in the area.

His wife Shirley, who works in food service at Palmetto High School, even admits that his proposal of marriage provided the directive: “We will live in Williamston.”

They live on Glenwood Street have three children: J.C., who is studying chiropractic medicine; Janie, who is working on a master’s degree in Christian education; and Elizabeth, who is a senior a Palmetto High School.

Voters in Williamston who wish to become better acquainted with Neel are invited to attend a barbecue Saturday at the Mineral Spring Park from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., supporters stated.

County could get new outdoor shopping mall

Plans for a new major outdoor shopping mall were unveiled at the regular meeting of Anderson County Council Tuesday night.

Commercial Resources Group announced plans to invest between $60 to $70 million in the development of 150 acres off the intersection of I-85 Exit 19 and U.S. 76.

Officials said that upscale fashion retailers will be targeted for the initial 80-acre phase that could include an outdoor mall approximately twice the size of Anderson Station now located off Clemson Boulevard. The project could provide from 400 to 600 new jobs in the area, officials added.

A 5-2 council vote supported an incentive package to offer the developers of the project a tax credit toward road and other infrastructure improvements planned for the site.

Council members Cindy Wilson and Larry Greer opposed the incentive package. Greer said that the county “has no concrete policy about providing incentive credits for commercial development.”

Anderson County Economic Development Director John Lummus also announced plans for a $30 million investment by Plastic Omnium creating 100 jobs over the next five years.

The council unanimously approved a fee-in-lieu-of-tax agreement (FILOT) for the local manufacturer, a BMW supplier.

During citizen comments, Robert Adams, a resident of the Orr Mill area, addressed the council about the ongoing problems with prostitution and drug activity in the area south of Anderson.

“They’re taking the neighborhood and taking the city. Enough is enough,” Adams said.

County Attorney Tom Martin explained that the council does not direct or control the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department but does have some authority through codes and resolutions.

At the suggestion of Council member Mike Holden, the council voted unanimously for Martin to prepare a resolution encouraging the sheriff’s department to direct more attention to the problem area.

Council member Gracie Floyd, who has spearheaded efforts to address the problem through community meetings, emphasized that citizens will meet with the winner of the sheriff’s race on November 8 at the Anderson County Library at 6 p.m. to discuss dealing with problem.

The third reading of a controversial ordinance involving a request by Howell-Black, LLC, on behalf of Mary Jo Wilson to rezone 109.31 acres at 2729 Highway 29 North from R-A (residential agriculture) to PD (planned development) was removed from the agenda at the request of the petitioner.

Many residents from the Cox Road area opposed to the rezoning request were present at the meeting in anticipation of the third reading of the ordinance.

After the meeting, Council chairman Clint Wright explained that he had met three times with parties involved in the rezoning issue to attempt to work out a compromise.

A split council vote supported the third reading of an ordinance involving a proposal to rezone 18.24 acres on Vandiver Road from R-20 (single family residential) to PD (planned development). Council members Fred Tolly, Floyd, and Wilson opposed the rezoning request.

Wilson continued her questioning on financial issues during the second reading of an ordinance authorizing the sale of up to $7.35 million in general obligation bonds by the county as provided in the budget.

She made a motion proposing that County Administrator Joey Preston release legal expense vendor file information, but the motion died for lack of a second by fellow council members. Wilson subsequently cast the only opposing vote to the bond issue.

Wilson was also the only council member opposing the first reading of an ordinance supporting the issue of special service revenue bonds to support infrastructure improvements in the county.

Remaining consistent in her opposition to county spending, Wilson also opposed the first reading of an ordinance providing for the sale of $8.2 million in bonds as provided in the budget.

In a special time allotted, Wilson encouraged fellow council members to review the documents distributed at the last council meeting involving the lawsuit filed by the county administrator against Wilson, the Town of Williamston, and two other individuals.

Wilson again made a motion that the administrator provide information on legal expense vendor files but received no support from fellow council members.

“Are you prepared to defend this (position) in court?” she asked her fellow council members.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to consider the second reading of an ordinance amending the Code of Ordinances in relation to enforcement of the so-called “weed ordinance” proposed by Council member Gracie Floyd to deal with properties that are not maintained and create safety hazards.

Floyd had proposed that the council table the ordinance until residents of her district who proposed the original ordinance had an opportunity to review the changes proposed by Dan McKinney of Windward Trail which he said could prevent misuse of the ordinance with regard to agricultural and natural landscape uses.

Martin assured Floyd that the language of the ordinance with the proposed amendments actually increased the enforceability of the ordinance.

A 6-1 council vote approved the amended ordinance with Greer casting the only opposing vote.

The council unanimously approved a proposal by Tolly to extend contracts with six EMS squads for five years. There would be no changes in the contracts and no legal fees involved, Tolly said.

 

 

 

 

 

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