News Archive

Front Page week of Oct. 1, 2008

News
(4008) Week of Oct. 1, 2008

How does the credit crisis affect us locally?
School fund balance to cover state budget cuts
Fast, walk to draw attention to hunger
Bridge project moved further down the list
$10 million GO Bond includes eleven projects
Deadline nearing for voter registration
Wren student among National Semifinalists
DHEC urges shot to protect against flu
Gas availability should improve
Price gouging statute remains in effect
Judge says no live testimony from county employees
Deputies investigate incidents
Seems to Me  . . . Golden parachutes

How does the credit crisis affect us locally?

By Stan Welch

The stock market is in free fall. Banks are failing and the federal government seems unsure what to do. Turn on any television and see talking heads trying to make sense of what it all means.

What is the impact of America’s banking crisis at the local level? What will it mean to you? To your neighbors?

Faye Meares, Senior Vice President for Community First Bank, spoke with The Journal this week, and stressed that the most important thing that individuals can do is to gather good solid information.

 “These are stressful times for all of us, and these issues are very serious. But information is the most valuable commodity that our customers can have right now. By information, I don’t mean the latest rumors and speculation from the local coffee shop. I mean solid information, like the facts about how FDIC safeguards work, or how to find the soundest banks in your area, and not just those that pay the highest interest rates. They are often not the same.”

Caraig Nix, Chief Financial Officer  for First Citizens Bank, agreed, saying, “This is a great opportunity for us to make ourselves available to our customers and to explain what we do and who we are. Smaller community banks like ours are generally very sound. The banks like ours which are commercial community banks did not get caught up in the high risk, sub prime lending that has brought us to this situation.”

Meares repeated the mantra that the great majority of banks are sound, and continue to provide valuable services to their customers. “There is a website called Bankrate.com. It evaluates the soundness and safeness of every bank in the country. It rates banks with a very simple star system, like restaurants. Five stars are the best. One star is not so good. There are only a half dozen or so five star banks in the entire state, but there are two four star banks in Williamston. I’m proud to say Community First Bank is one of them.”

She said the short term effects of the financial crisis will be several and significant. “For one thing, credit is definitely tightening up. Commercial banks, like ours, did not get into the sub prime lending frenzy that has taken place in the last few years. For one thing, we are much more heavily regulated than investment banks, which really aren’t even banks, but businesses that buy and sell packages of mortgages. That’s where the problems in the housing arena began. But commercial banks are also going to pay the price for those mistakes.”

She cited several statistics that make it clear the recovery in South Carolina will not be a quick one. “We have 16,000 people from the construction industry in S.C. who have lost their jobs since July of last year.  Overall, our unemployment is 7.6%, the highest in fifteen years. The number of foreclosures between February 2007 and February this year shot up 223%.There are huge numbers of unsold homes on the market, which means there is very little incentive to build new ones, making it obvious that the housing industry will be flat for a good while. These are very significant factors in any recovery. “

Meares said that the recent events have shaken public confidence in the banking industry, a factor that she says is also very significant. 

“Terms like public trust seem vague and hard to pinpoint, but one benefit of the proposed bailout, which is not easy to swallow by any means, is that it will shore up the credit system, so that business can continue. It in effect buys us some time to address and correct the real problems we have. And we have to fix those problems over the next few years or the bailout will accomplish very little of any real value. Faith in our political and financial institutions is a vital part of any recovery.”

Nix said that there has been no panic in the areas First Citizens serves. “We haven’t seen that and we think it’s because we have a conservative approach to banking and people understand that. Community banks in general are well capitalized to conduct their operations, including lending. They are also liquid and can adapt to changing circumstances. We face troubling times, no doubt. But I am confident that the American economic system will recover and will flourish.”

As the credit system in the country chokes down, with even banks hesitant to lend money to one another, small businesses quickly feel the pinch. “Materials can’t be bought, payrolls can’t be met, employment suffers as the businesses struggle to survive. In a very short time, the problems deepen and broaden, affecting more and more people. We’re probably talking a matter of a few weeks if our government can’t come up with a workable solution soon,” said Meares.

As cash flow suffers, small businesses may have to borrow to meet payroll. If they can find a lender, the interest rates are higher, and the payroll costs for the business rises, even though no one is receiving a raise. “To make things worse, groceries and gas and prescription medicines are all going up, so the workers are actually getting less buying power. It all accelerates,” said Meares.

Still, she stressed that the great majority of banks are solid and that they can provide real assistance to their customers. “We have people who want to move their money, and we don’t discourage that, if they are moving it to address FDIC issues. But to take money out of the bank out of fear is the worst thing a person can do. It earns nothing under the mattress. I would just encourage anyone to talk with their banker and get the best information they can before making decisions about their finances.”

School fund balance to cover state budget cuts

During their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, the Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard an update on the building program, discussed state budget cuts and approved a quit-claim deed for property they didn’t know they had an interest in.

Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler said that the district will advertise for bids on field houses at both high schools in October. The building program will focus on Wren Middle and Powdersville Middle next followed by Concrete and Spearman, Dr. Fowler said.

Dr. Fowler said he and Assistant Superintendent David Havird have been meeting with architects about twice each week to go over plans and details on the Districts projects.

They will be meeting with engineers to look at the site package for the new Powdersville High School soon, he said. Decisions will include which trees to leave and grading at the site to get it ready for when bids go out.

Finance Director Steve Uldrick said their auditing firm started an external audit Monday and that an audit to assure federal compliance on the District finances has recently been completed.

When asked by a board member about state budget cutbacks, Dr. Fowler said that some state revenues are down, resulting in about $850,000 in cuts for District One.

“The funds are not coming in,” Dr. Fowler said. “When funding relies on a penny, and people don’t spend, it goes down. It is not a stable way to fund a system.”

Uldrick said the District One fund balance is in good shape and the District could cover a shortfall for two to three years if necessary.

Dr. Fowler said that the district being frugal led to the good fund balance. “That’s why you have one, for rainy days.”

Dr. Fowler said the fund balance will help through the hard times and thanked the board and the people he works with for being able to build a fund balance.

“Hopefully the state will budget revenues more conservatively.”

Dr. Fowler said that if there are more funding cutbacks in the future, the district will have to look at cuts.

In his nutritional report, Havird said that the District served a record number of free and reduced lunches and that a record number of students participated in the program during the first nine days of the school year.

A total of 58,383 students were served during August, he said.

Following a brief executive session to discuss personnel and contract matters, Board members returned to public session and unanimously agreed to deny a grievance petition. No additional details were discussed.

Upon the recommendation of the superintendent, the board unanimously approved a quit-claim deed for 1.53 acres which Dr. Fowler said the district did not know they had an interest in.

The property was conveyed to the District approximately 60 years ago when individual schools were combined to form the five county districts. He said the people living on the property had died and the building was once a school. The family wanted to sell the property. But in order to do so, they needed a release from the District.

After researching the property, Fowler said the District found no record of a deed in their files or at the county.

“We are saying the district has no right to the property which we didn’t even know we had.” The family will pay the District $5.

The board approved the following personnel recommendations:

Request for leave - Kristie Campbell, Palmetto Elementary, Grade 3; Tracy Gaylord, Concrete Primary, Grade 2; Larissa Heimlich, West Pelzer Elementary, Grade 2; Leslie Phillips, Palmetto Elementary, Grade 4; Britney Thames, Powdersville Elementary, Grade 4; Jessica Tollison, Wren Middle, Grade 6 Language Arts, Melody Weatherford, Wren High, Family and Consumer Science.

Resignation - Judy Humphries, District Social Worker.

Fast, walk to draw attention to hunger

This Saturday, Oct. 4, Jed Daughtry is doing something he has never done before, fasting for a 24 hour period and walking to call attention to people going without food.

Daughtry is one of the directors of the Piedmont Emergency Relief Center (PERC), which provides food and other services to persons in need in the Piedmont and Pelzer area.

Beginning at Flat Rock Baptist Church in Piedmont, he will be walking along Hwy. 86 to Unity Presbyterian Church to draw attention to hunger. He plans to stop at churches along the way for refreshment and to make contact with potential partners.

During a 24 hour period beginning on Friday, Daughtry said he will not eat any food, allowing only juice and water to sustain him.

He said the walk is a call to recognize homelessness and hunger and is not a fund raiser, but a way to raise awareness. He said he wants to bring attention not only to the problem in our area, but to the situation facing many people “in our service areas and beyond.”

“With the crisis that we are in in this world, we should care enough that we shouldn’t forget those without.”

Daughtry said he has never done anything like this before, but felt he was called to do it. “The need is great,” he said.

Food is the foundation of provisions offered by the organization, but PERC also has a database to offer referrals for a variety of problems that people may have.

“I tell our volunteers we may not have all the answers, but we know how to find the answer.”

Several others have said they will walk with Daughtry.

Families who live within the 29673, 29611, 29669, 29697- zip code areas are eligible to receive donations as well as anyone referred by the Piedmont Fire Department, church, or business within the 29673 zip code.

PERC offices in downtown Piedmont are open Monday 10 am-2 pm, Tuesday and Thursday 4 pm-7 pm, Friday 10 am-2 pm, and Saturday 9 am to noon. For more information on PERC or Daughtry’s walk for hunger call 864-845-5535 during business hours or visit the PERC website at www.piedmontperc.org.

Bridge project moved further down the list

By Stan Welch

Two years ago, the South Carolina Department of Transportation announced that it would soon be modifying and redesigning the intersection of Cherokee Road, Beaverdam Road and Highway 29.

Not long after that, a scandal of seismic proportions hit the SCDOT, resulting in a significant makeover of the state agency. One of the major elements in that restructuring included the highway commission assuming much greater authority in prioritizing road projects across the state.

Such restructurings, which SCDOT seems to undergo every quarter century or so, always have casualties. The project mentioned above appears to be just such a casualty.

According to SCDOT officials, the project, which would have been very close to its start time, has instead been bumped back several years under the new criteria for such projects.

SCDOT bridge maintenance engineer Lee Floyd told The Journal last week that under Highway Act 114, passed in response to widespread accountability problems within SCDOT, the commission created by that act assumed the responsibilities for state’s construction schedules.

“We were asked to develop a formula by which the priorities for these projects could be established by the commission. Under that formula, this project fell a good ways down the list. As it stands now, the project should be started in 2012 and finished in 2015.”

The project was announced in July 2005, and was slated to start in 2007, with a projected finish date sometime in 2009.

It originally was designed to include two twelve foot travel lanes and a fifteen foot wide two way turn lane. The on and off ramps at that location were also going to be modified, and the Cherokee Road roadbed across the bridge itself was to be raised to seventeen feet in height. The current bridge is thirteen feet high and is struck by trucks traveling on Hwy 29 on a fairly regular basis.

The original estimated cost of $5-$6 million for the project is certain to increase considerably during the delay in construction.

$10 million GO Bond includes eleven projects
None in Williamston/Pelzer

By Stan Welch

Confusion about the location of a proposed $915,000 project at Broadway Lake offers good reason to review the entire list of eleven projects to be funded through the same $10 million general obligation bond recently approved by Anderson County Council.

The Broadway Lake project was the object of the confusion, with at least one member of council feeling as if she and the council were misled about the project, and the Councilmember in whose district the project is located adding to the confusion by her comments at the third reading of the bond ordinance.

The project is budgeted at $915,000, and is listed as renovations of a 2605 square foot pavilion.

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, who had the impression that the Johnson Broadview (JBECO) community center in District Two was the location of the project, has repeatedly stated that the renovations could be more than adequately achieved for a third of the amount budgeted.

In response to comments made by Wilson during a recent meeting, Councilwoman Gracie Floyd stated the project was at the JBECO center. She later said she was mistaken.

Floyd, in whose district the site is located, has been quoted as saying she doesn’t want to “see this thing nickeled and dimed. I want this done right.”

(Editors note: Due to confusion resulting from the comments made by Councilmembers Wilson and Floyd, The Journal indicated that the GO Bond project funding was at the JBECO center. After reviewing the list, the GO Bond renovation project, budgeted at $915,000, appears to be the pavillion located at McFalls Landing.)

In reality, the Broadway Lake project is one of the smaller ones funded by the bond. 

A new animal shelter, budgeted at $3.2 million, as currently drawn, will not include any holding or quarantine facility for large animals, such as horses and livestock, despite pleas by the equine community and equine rescue organizations that such a facility be included.

Other projects include renovations of the Ronald P.Townsend building for use as offices. Proposed renovations of the offices of the Department of Social Services will cost the county $319,400 for its share with the state adding a slightly lesser amount.

The McCants school building is slated for an extensive renovation despite fears in the past that asbestos would be a problem in renovating the facility for use as offices for the County. That renovation, designed to help the county’s special populations, is slated at $1.5 million.

Three parks, the Parker Bowie Park, the Dolly Cooper Park and a park slated for Highway 24 in District Five,will cost a total of $1.75 million. A proposed burn building, for firefighter training will cost the county $340,000 of a total $660,000 cost.

An allocation of $250,000 was added to the list for Honea Path’s renovations of the old Wright School, which is being turned into municipal offices.

At the final reading of the bond ordinance, District three councilman Larry Greer moved to amend the budget in order to provide $250,000 in funding to both Iva and Belton for downtown revitalization projects they have underway.

Additional bonds approved

In addition to the GO bond, the Council has approved a $3.2 million special source revenue bond to renovate or replace five convenience centers. The solid waste department’s revenues will be used to repay that bond, according to the ordinance. Two of the centers, located at Harris Bridge Road and Three and Twenty Road, respectively, will each cost $775,000, while three others, at Friendship, Craytonville and Agnew Road will cost $550,000 each.

Still another special source revenue bond, in the amount of $2.25 million was approved for construction of additional hangars at the airport. Again, revenues generated at the airport will be used to repay the bond.

The Council also approved a lease/purchase agreement for the acquisition of vehicles and heavy equipment by the county, in the amount of $5.4 million dollars, bringing the total amount of debt approved by the Council in the last six weeks to $20.85 million.

That level of indebtedness was approved over the persistent objections of Council members Cindy Wilson and Bob Waldrep, who  tried to persuade the majority of Council to cut some of the projects from all of the bonds issued, until the status of the national economy and its local impact, could be determined.

Deadline nearing for voter registration

Saturday, October 4, is the final day to register to vote in the Nov. 4 General Election. In the state of South Carolina residents do not register by party.

The Voter Registration office will be open additional hours on Sat., Sept. 27, from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and Sat., Oct. 4, from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Persons wishing to register should bring a current photo ID and documentation that has name and current address.  Documents can be a S.C. Driver’s license, current utility bill, or bank statement. 

Citizens may also register to vote by mail. Applications must be postmarked by Oct. 4 for processing to be eligible to participate in the General Election. When registering by mail, identification must also be attached. Acceptable forms of identification are current and valid photo identification or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck stub, government document. If identification other than photo ID is presented, it must show current and correct name and address.

Voters who have moved out of Anderson County or out-of-State but have returned to reside in Anderson County must re-register by October 4 to be eligible to vote in the General Election.

The  Voter Registration and Elections Office Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. It is located in the old Bailes Building, directly behind the old Historic Courthouse at 107 South Main Street, Room 101, or by mailing a change of address form to P.O. Box 8002 Anderson, SC  29622. This form is available for download at www.andersoncountysc.org/vote.

State Law requires that voters be registered at least 30 days prior to an election to participate in that election. Voters are allowed to cast their vote in only one of the Political Parties’ Primary election.

Registered voters, who qualify, and intend to cast absentee ballot by mail in one of the above Elections, may call 864-260-4035 to request an absentee ballot application.

Wren student among National semifinalists

Michelle E. Sullivan of Wren High School is among  fifty-three African American seniors in 34 South Carolina public high schools  named semifinalists in the 45th annual National Achievement Scholarship competition. They are among more than 1,600 students to achieve this honor nationwide.

Semifinalists have an opportunity to continue in the competition for approximately 800 scholarships worth over $2.6 million to be awarded next spring.  The National Achievement Program is conducted by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and began in 1964 to recognize promising black students.

“We are very proud of Michelle and all of her academic accomplishments. Being one of only 53 students in the entire state to receive this award is a huge honor,” said Wren High Principal Robbie Binnicker.

Approximately 1,300 semifinalists are expected to fulfill additional requirements and advance to the finalist level. All National Achievement Scholars will be selected from the finalist group on the basis of their abilities, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

More than 150,000 high school juniors from all parts of the United States entered the 2009 National Achievement Program when they took the 2007 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.  Semifinalists are designated within geographic regions and are the highest-scoring program entrants in the states that make up each region.

National Achievement Scholarships provided in 2009 will be supported by corporations, professional organizations, foundations and by National Merit’s own funds.  Winners’ names will be announced in early April.  Over 27,800 young men and women have received Achievement Scholarship awards worth more than $91 million since the program began.

DHEC urges shot to protect against flu

With influenza season approaching, South Carolinians are encouraged to get their flu vaccinations, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

“Flu is a very serious illness in South Carolina,” said Jerry Gibson,

M.D., DHEC’s director of the Bureau of Disease Control. “Each year about 700 people die from the flu in our state and more than 4,000 South Carolinians are admitted to a hospital. Flu is a leading cause of death for people age 65 years and older.

“Anyone can get the flu, even healthy people,” Dr. Gibson said. “The elderly, very young children, and people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease are more likely to have complications from the flu.

“The best way to protect yourself and your family, this season and every season, is for everyone - especially those with a higher risk for flu-related complications along with those who live with or care for people at high risk - to get a flu shot,” Dr. Gibson said. “The vaccine provides immunity not only for the person who receives it, but also for the community at large when more people are protected. We particularly want to urge people who are at the greatest risk from flu, or those who care for them, to make vaccination a priority.”

Dr. Gibson said that, despite a prevalent myth, you will not get the flu from the flu shot. He also reminds people that you can prevent the spread of the flu by covering your cough, washing your hands thoroughly and often, and staying home when you are sick.

Dr. Gibson said the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that a significant amount of influenza vaccine should be available in physician’s offices and communities by the end of

September to allow vaccinations to begin in most counties. DHEC’s public health regions across the state will begin offering flu shot clinics in October. Information about DHEC clinics near you will be regularly updated on the DHEC Web site at http://www.scdhec.gov/flu.

Flu shots will be offered locally at the following locations:

October 9 - 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. First Baptist Church Main Street Williamston,

October 13 -  9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Chiquola Baptist Church, 490 Laurel Street, Honea Path.

October 16 - 10 a.m. - noon, First Baptist Church, 105 Brown Avenue, Belton.

October 31 - 7:30 a.m. - noon, Anderson Health Department, 220 McGee Road, Anderson, 

November 3 - 3 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., Anderson Health Department, 220 McGee Road, Anderson. For more information call 864-260-5674. 

DHEC Region1 will offer flu shots for $25. For those who meet the criteria for a Pneumonia and/or Tetanus shot, there will be no additional charge. Please bring your Medicare and Medicaid cards and other supplemental cards to make sure your plan covers the vaccine. Cash or check (made to DHEC) will be accepted. Flu shots will be offered to anyone ages six months and older. No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.

Gas availability should improve

Though gas outages in the area have been sporatic, most stations in the local area have gas available and gas availability is expected to improve according to AAA Carolinas.

With big shipments of gas expected to terminals in Charlotte, Spartanburg and Selma, there should soon be a “replenishing” level of gasoline in some areas hit hard by gas shortages the past week including Greenville, Spartanburg, Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas.

More Gulf of Mexico refineries are on-line, and more gasoline is flowing through the pipelines, said Parsons. Only four of the 17 Houston area refineries remain closed with most others in either partial or full operation and a handful expected to ramp up to full capacity through the weekend, he said. The other 16 Gulf refineries are operating at either partial or full capacity today, Parsons said.

Good news for motorists, said Parsons, is increased supplies of gasoline are on the way and scheduled to be delivered to gas stations Friday and throughout the weekend.

“Our advice to motorists with a one-fourth of a tank of gas or more is to wait, when possible, and check for gas availability Saturday and Sunday,” said Parsons. “It is likely that stations will have more gas available this weekend; it will take time for tankers to deliver to different stops.”

Parsons said it will still take a week or more for the Southeast area to receive larger shipments of gasoline through the pipeline and sporadic gasoline outages and shortages may continue from time to time.

Gas prices continue to fall with the cost of a gallon of unleaded gasoline averaging $3.90 in North Carolina and $3.81 in South Carolina, both state averages down a penny from yesterday, continuing a week-long drop in state average gas prices.

“Motorists should be patient and exercise control and restraint in gas lines,” said Parsons. “Avoid panic pumping, or filling up and topping off your tanks when it’s not necessary, because that will continue the run on already very limited gas supplies.”

Price gouging statute remains in effect

Due to continued disruption of supply of petroleum products resulting from Hurricane Ike’s landfall, the state has renewed the price gouging statute for another fifteen (15) day period. Pursuant to SC Code Section 39-5-145, the attorney general now gives notice of a continuing “abnormal disruption of the market” for gasoline and other petroleum products in South Carolina.

‘Price gouging’ requires the charging of an ‘unconscionable price’ not attributed to additional costs or market fluctuations. An unfair trade practice violation carries a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation 39-5-110. In addition, the criminal penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment of no more than 30 days 39-5-145(K).

Citizens should report inordinate and suspected violations immediately to local law enforcement. This office continues to offer a special email address — GasPrices@SCAttorneyGeneral.com, and an information line at (803) 734-3970.

The prohibition remains in effect until the fifteen (15) day declaration period expires or is terminated by the attorney general. 

Since the original declaration on Sept. 12, the Attorney General’s office has received nearly four thousand (4,000) complaints, has issued fifteen civil subpoenas requesting information from various entities, has sent agents to over forty locations associated with the petroleum supply and retail industry, and has made numerous phone calls to additional petroleum industry entities.

To date, there have been no charges of price gouging brought against any entity by the Attorney General’s Office. The investigation into potential price gouging will continue.

Judge says no live testimony from county employees

By Stan Welch

The legal battle over the roles of elected officials and hired employees in the administration of Anderson County continued last week, as a judge heard preliminary arguments by both sides of the issue.

The context of the hearing was a request for an injunction by County Administrator Joey Preston to prevent  County Council members Bob Waldrep and Cindy Wilson from having direct contact with county employees. The legal action is just the latest in a series of such initiated by Preston in his battle to retain control of the county’s daily administration.

Judge Buddy Nicholson, Jr. heard arguments and testimony, and received evidence from both sides, during a two hour hearing last Wednesday. Preston was seeking relief both temporarily and permanently in the form of an injunction that could effectively have banned both elected officials from any part of the county’s offices except the hallways.

That’s what Mr. Preston described as the public parts of the courthouse. “The hallways would be public, but the offices are private,”

Key among the issues addressed was the right of the two Council members to information. “Does Mr. Waldrep have a lesser right to that information than a regular citizen? If I walk into the finance office as a citizen and ask for a document, do you have to approve that request,” asked Larry Richter, Waldrep’s attorney.

Preston stated that any such request would go through him, sparking a spirited exchange with Richter. “If I went into the register of mesnes conveyance to see a copy of my deed, could I get it?” Preston stated there was a policy in place for that particular eventuality. “Where is that policy? Is it in writing?” challenged Richter.

Preston continued to defend his policy of controlling the flow of information. “What if I thought you were a thief?” said Richter. “Would I have to ask you for the documents that might land you in jail?” asked Richter.

Preston’s attorney, Nancy Bloodgood, produced a stream of affidavits from county employees Gina Humphries, Taylor Jones and others, who claimed they had been intimidated and placed in fear of their jobs by Waldrep and Wilson.

Richter and Wilson’s attorney, Scott Plyler, repeatedly objected that they had neither seen the documents before entering the court, nor were the employees available for cross examination. Judge Nicholson consistently overruled their objections.

Richter called the introduction of the affidavits a “ruse of using counsel to produce evidence.” 

Richter also argued that the request for injunction listed Waldrep and Wilson as individuals, and not as Council members. Individuals aren’t subject to the Home Rule Act, under which Mr. Preston says they cannot direct county employees. Both Richter and Plyler argued that the request for an injunction should be dismissed, not only because Home Rule, in their opinion, didn’t apply, but because an injunction is intended to provide swift relief. The list of incidents introduced by Preston, occurred as much as eight months before, and stretched months into the future.

Those incidents included Mr. Waldrep’s reference to Mr. Preston and Ms. Humphries as the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the finance department, a statement which apparently humiliated Ms. Humphries, according to her affidavit.

Preston also cited a statement by Waldrep at a budget workshop, which Preston did not attend; a statement concerning the intentions of the new Council to conduct a full audit and to place Mr. Preston on administrative leave with pay while the audit was conducted.

At times, the litany of incidents bordered on a tongue twister, as in when Preston stated that Mr. Waldrep had “directed the deputy director not to have the director present at the meeting.” That referred to a meeting Mr. Waldrep tried to arrange with two members of the public safety department, in the absence of their department head, Taylor Jones.

Waldrep has said in past statements that he felt he could not get unbiased, accurate information from Jones about the 800 MHz radio system the county was considering buying at the time.

Both Richter and Plyler argued that actions by their clients in no way served as direction to county employees, as in when they requested information. Preston disagreed, saying that asking for a certain file in effect directed the employee to produce it.

Judge Nicholson declined the defense’s motion to dismiss and told the attorneys they would be allowed to introduce affidavits as well as presenting live testimony at the next hearing.

That would allow cross examination of the various employees who produced affidavits in support of Preston’s claims. According to Mr. Waldrep, a few days after the hearing, his attorney received an e-mail from Judge Nicholson stating that no live testimony would be allowed at the next hearing after all.

Deputies investigate incidents

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated the following incidents:

BELTON 

Sept. 23 – C. Holbrooks was dispatched to Broadway School Rd. where Jeremy Stamps reported that Robert Allen Crowe Jr. had fired two shots from a pistol into the air, as he drove past the incident location. Crowe, Jr., WM, 19, 6’, 210 pounds, brn/brn was contacted and admitted firing the two shots into the air. The gun was run through NCIC and it was confirmed to be stolen from the ACSO. Crowe was arrested for disorderly conduct and possession of stolen property.

Sept. 28 – M.T. Szymanski responded to 520 Mize Rd. where Michael Perry reported that someone had stolen several items from his porch, valued at $990.

EASLEY

Sept. 25 – P.D. Marter responded to 2904 Easley Hwy. where David Crain, of Williamston, reported that someone had stolen his 2004 red Eaton moped from the Citgo convenience store at Three and Twenty Rd. The loss was estimated at $950.

PELZER

Sept. 26 – J.T. Bowers was patrolling near 11 Drake St. when he observed a gray 1994 Acura displaying a NC license plate #TRY-6851. Deputy J.J. Jacobs advised he had seen the same vehicle several minutes earlier, being driven by Doyle Simmons, and that the vehicle had taken evasive action to evade him. The license plate was checked and found to be stolen. The vehicle suddenly pulled over and the two occupants jumped out and ran. Jacobs caught the female passenger, Angela Hollingsworth, WF, 38, 5’6", 125 pounds, brn/brn, who said the tag was on the vehicle when she bought it a few days earlier. She was arrested for receiving stolen property and resisting arrest. Bowers intended to seek warrants on Simmons, WM,34, 6’1", 210 pounds, brn/blue, for DUS third or subsequent offense and resisting arrest.

Sept. 27 – J.J. Jacobs was on patrol and saw Kenneth Sellers, whom he knew to be under a suspended driver license, driving a GMC pickup. He stopped Sellers, WM, 47, 6’1", 225 pounds, gray/brn , of Piedmont, and subsequently arrested him for DUS. A records check also revealed that Sellers was wanted on a family court warrant from Aiken County.

PIEDMONT

Sept. 25 – C. Whitfield and M.W. Hunnicutt were investigating a report of a runaway juvenile and had located the teenager who informed them she had been at the residence of a Sandra Cheeks and had smoked marijuana while she was there. Reports state the officers went to 250 Chaffin Rd. where Cheeks confirmed that the juvenile had been there and smoked marijuana. The officers found marijuana at the scene and also determined that there were two active warrants on Cheeks. She was taken into custody.

Sept. 26 – C. Whitfield and M.W. Hunnicutt were investigating a report of a dispute at 112 Beech Island Dr., Apt. 203, involving Nicole Drozd, WF, 26, 5’2", 110 pounds, brn/brn and her boyfriend Chad Lee. While they were interviewing the couple, a woman who was intoxicated kept coming out of a nearby apartment and asking what they were doing there. She came out four times. The deputies discovered that Drozd had an active warrant and she was taken into custody. As they escorted her to the cruiser, the other woman, Bernadine Hames, WF, 37, 5’6", 135 pounds, of Greenville, came out again demanding to know why Drozd was being taken to jail. After refusing to return to the apartment, she was arrested for public disorderly conduct and both women were transported to ACDC.

Sept. 26 – R. Beddingfield was attempting to drive his patrol car into the Wren Fire Department when he drove into the ditch. The incident report indicates that a medical condition may have been responsible, and Beddingfield spent several hours in the hospital before being released. There was no visible damage to the vehicle.

Sept. 27 – C. Pridemore and K.J. Winn responded to I-85 to assist West Pelzer Police Officer D. Rainey. He initiated a traffic stop on a suspect vehicle and subsequent to a field sobriety test, placed Darren Cline, WM, 31, 5’11", of Simpsonville, under arrest for DUI.

Dec. 28 – R. Beddingfield met a GCSO deputy to take custody of William Pigley II, WM, 18, 5’10", 150 pounds, who had been arrested on an active Anderson County bench warrant.

WILLIAMSTON

Sept. 23 – J.J. Jacobs responded to 735 H I Taylor Rd. where Christine Wellwood reported that her live-in boyfriend had assaulted her during an argument, kicking and pushing her and striking her with a small sword. He was no longer at the scene and Jacobs planned to seek a warrant. Wellwood, WF, 24, 5’2", 105 pounds, blonde/brn, however, was discovered to be wanted on an active warrant from Greenville County and was taken into custody.

Sept. 25 – P.D. Marter responded to 1104 Anderson Rd. where Justin Smith reported that he had parked his car at that location for a couple of hours. When he returned he found that the driver’s side window was broken. The loss was estimated at $250.

Sept. 25 – K.D. Pigman was dispatched to 113 Breazeale Rd. where Jeannette McAlister reported that someone had damaged her rental property by pulling the air conditioning unit away from the house and cutting the power lines to it. Damage was estimated at $400.

Sept. 27 – K. W. Pearson responded to 109 Crappie Dr. to investigate a report of assault and battery and found Henry Rodriguez, Hispanic male, 30, 5’2", 160 pounds to be wanted on two bench warrants from Anderson County. He was placed under arrest.

Sept. 27 – R. Beddingfield  stopped Desmond Smith on a traffic stop and discovered that he was wanted on a warrant from the Anderson City Police. He transported Smith to the Forest Lawn Cemetery where an Anderson City Police officer took custody of him.

Seems to Me  . . . Golden parachutes

By Stan Welch

A person of my age (none of your business) living in this world is going to see a lot of hypocrisy in the course of the years. I am no different. In fact, my quarter century as a reporter has probably exposed me to a good bit more hypocrisy than most.

Usually, I just note it and move on. On a good day, I’m able to catch a public figure practicing hypocrisy (how else could they get so good at it?) and expose them. Some of them even have the good grace to be embarrassed when they are caught, although very few actually change their behavior.

But this last week, I have seen repeated acts of hypocrisy carried out before the cameras of the national news services, by men and women with straight faces and black hearts. I have been nauseous since this latest financial meltdown has begun, as all the weasels who have gotten rich from the practices that brought it on, have stood in the foreground, thumping their chests and bemoaning the circumstances that allowed this to happen.

What egg sucking dogs they are! Chris Dodd is a lying sack of wind who has taken money from lobbyists determined to run that subprime gravy train into the wall at as high a speed as possible. Senator Dodd, have you forgotten who was head of the banking committee during this disaster? It was you, you snake oil salesman.

Barney Frank is another hypocritical pig whose personal honesty was apparently exhausted when he admitted his homosexual nature several years ago. Hey, Barney, no problem. You’re gay, okay? That’s your business. The fact that you sell your soul to the banking industry is ours.

John Kerry? Please! Number three on the biscuits and gravy list, when it comes to taking money from the special interests who ran Fannie and Freddie into the ground so poor, ethnic and predominantly democratic voters could get the house of their dreams, even though more than a few were unemployed when the paperwork was approved. Has any other couple had a rougher tumble down the hill than Freddie and Fannie? I mean Jack and Jill sent a get well card.

Of course, they should never have been formed, these mutant institutions that were part private and part government, these parasites that sucked so many lenders dry that when they crashed like the Hindenburg, the effects rippled from sea to shining sea.

And what of our glorious, ground-breaking Democratic presidential candidate? He is number two on the banking industry’s Christmas card list, and those cards always contain a lot of best wishes. In the case of Mr. Barack Obama, champion of the poor and downtrodden, defender of the banking industry and its destructive plunge into some of the worst business practices in the history of business, the number of best wishes was 126,000.

Barack Obama, who has the gall to act like he did a single solitary thing to fend off this disaster that has just created a heck of a lot more poor and downtrodden for him to defend, will tell any lie and twist any situation to make himself look good. He championed the expansion of the sub prime lending market because it let him move up the food chain.

And those he met along the way? Oh, the former head of Fannie Mae is one of his advisers and fund raisers. Others from the “it’s only numbers, not real money” crowd continue to dot his personal landscape. Seems to me, he found it easier to escape a crazy racist preacher than he does certain three piece suits.

In one of the real ironies of recent American politics, free market Republicans were the ones who sounded the alarm about the insanity passing for policy in the lending and housing industries in recent years.. In 2003, George Bush, of all people, tried to pass legislation that would have tightened regulation of the lending industry. You know folks, when George Bush is farther ahead of the game than you are, you’re in the wrong game. Again, in 2005, Republican presidential candidate John McCain co-sponsored similar legislation and warned that the banking and loan industry was in dire trouble.

Those now standing before the television cameras and expressing their deep concern over the economic future of the country, couldn’t hear the warnings. The ch-ching of the cash drawer was too loud, I suppose.

This is not to say that no Republicans were culpable in this fiasco. They are. George Bush should have beat that drum until someone went deaf. He should have fought the abandonment of common sense at every step. It doesn’t take Alan Greenspan to know you don’t sell a half million dollar house to someone making thirty grand a year, much less someone without a job at all.

The fact that the lending industry did so for years condemns every member of Congress, who should have been protecting us from this debacle, not encouraging it to satisfy special interests.

One of the loudest cries in this most recent snake oil show is for the executives of these companies to be punished for making millions off the suffering of others. Hogwash! They did exactly what they were allowed, even encouraged, to do. If we’re going to hang anyone over this, and lordy, I hope we are, then let’s hang the political chippies that took the money with one hand and stabbed the American people in the back with the other.

Monday, Congress said no to the proposed $700 billion bailout, and the market plunged almost eight hundred points. Recession is certain, now, and a great depression is no longer just a memory among the oldsters. It is a real possibility.

And if it becomes real, it seems to me that those who let it happen, well, who insisted it happen, be thrown from Wall Street Windows before they get the chance to jump.

Let’s just hope their golden parachutes fail to open.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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