News Archive

Front Page week of Oct. 8, 2008

(4108) Week of Oct. 8, 2008

Council, administrator address personnel issues, sewer recreation
Landmarks demolished
Body of missing man recovered from Saluda River
CPST makes push in Powdersville
Sue Cleveland school finalist in national contest
Ethanol facility receives incentives, continues to be issue for residents
Court Clerk arrested for not paying withholding
State Chamber recognizes O’Dell
Seems to Me . . . Remembering Jerry Lee

Council, administrator address personnel issues, sewer recreation

During their regular monthly meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved funding for playground equipment, lighting for the soccer fields and set a date for a ribbon cutting for the recently finished streetscape project.

Council approved a special request by David Meade, Managing Editor of The Journal, to allow use of the Municipal Center Auditorium for a political debate at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 23. The debate will feature a question and answer session for the three candidates for Williamston Mayor. The event will be organized and sponsored by the newspaper, Meade said.

During citizens comments, Willie Wright invited candidates to a political forum to be held Thurs. Oct. 16 at the Caroline Community Center. All candidates running for office are invited to attend, he said.

Council approved a request by Dianne Lollis for $500 to be used for decorations for the Boo in the Park event to be held Oct. 25 in Mineral Spring Park. Funding will come from the Hospitality Tax fund. The event is co-sponsored by several area churches, businesses and civic organizations. Council also approved a request by Lollis to allow the Municipal Center Auditorium to be used for a Spring Water Festival Beauty Pageant on Sunday, Nov. 16.

The town is in the process of contacting auditing firms to perform the yearly audit. Mayor Phillip Clardy said that interested parties will meet with the new town administrator and that she will be making a recommendation to Council.

Phyllis Lollis officially began her duties as the town’s first Administrator on Sept. 15.

Mayor Clardy said that he and Lollis have recently met with town employees. and discussed a 3 percent cost of living raise. He said he would like for council to consider a  3 percent cost of living raise for employees and a merit process being suggested by the town administrator at the next meeting.

Clardy commended the new administrator and clerk treasurer Michelle Starnes for their efforts in getting the financial statements finalized.

Sewer rate/Personnel

Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. stated that the current financial crisis has raised concerns that RDA funding for the town’s water and sewer upgrades could be affected by the recent financial crisis. He said the federal government has moved people from municipal to residential to help deal with the crisis.

Middleton said the town should continue to look into a possible increase in the sewer rate,which he said will happen anyway. He also said he wanted to see more information on the sanitation fee particularly for businesses.

Councilman Carthel Crout stated the town needed to look at insurance for town employees and “get a better rate than what we’re paying.”

Town Administrator Lollis said she is looking at a state insurance plan and other companies for options on the insurance issue.

Mayor Clardy said town employees had last received a 5 percent retro raise in 2001, and three years later, in 2004 a 3 percent raise.

Clardy said the employees had received additional insurance benefits because premiums have increased and the town has paid the increases without passing them to employees. “Insurance benefits have increase substantially,” he said.

Clardy said that the insurance issue is the first project tackled by the new administrator.

Clardy said that the reason he wanted a cost comparison done on the water and sewer rates earlier in the year was because of the effect of an employee raise on them.

Clardy agreed with Middleton that the town has some things which need to be done now and they cannot wait on the federal govenrment funds which will reimburse the town for expenditures.

Sonya Harrison of the Goldie and Associates engineering firm which is working with RDA on the towns upgrades,said that the town’s funding was approved on Oct. 1. She said that the government had shifted people to work on the housing crisis and that it had delayed the letter confirming the funding.

Council continues working on personnel issues, unanimously approving several addendums to the employee personnel manual. One change allows a personal day for employees. Council then approved the final draft of the manual.


Following discussion on placing playground equipment at the Gray Drive walking track, and whether it should be considered a park, Council approved a motion by Mayor Clardy to rename the facility the Gray Drive Recreation Park. They also authorized the town’s grant writer to seek $29,000 in funding for playground equipment for the park.

Council unanimously approved spending  $17,950 from the town’s hospitality tax fund for labor and installation of lights for the soccer fields.

Anderson School District One offered the town lights and poles  from Middleton Field which were replaced with new ones.

The price includes wiring, replacing the old wooden arms on the six poles with new metal arms, replacing lights and erecting them.

Williamston Recreation Director Dale Martin said the lights will be about 60 to 70 feet high and will light all of the new soccer fields except a back portion where additional lighting will be installed. The lights are valued at $30,000 to $35,000, he said.

Forest Hills forum

A public forum will be held Tuesday, October 14 at 6 p.m. to explain water and sewer rates to resident of Forest Hills Subdivision.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said he wanted the session “to allow residents to be educated on the billing from the town of Williamston.”

Clardy said there is some confusion about billing which includes additional fees by Jacob Utilities (Goldie and Associates) and Anderson County.

The bills contain billing from all three entities, according to Clardy and the session will focus on the town’s portion of the billing.

Goldie and Associates representative Sonya Harrison said that the presentation prepared would include a breakdown of each of the billing charges. Clardy said the presentation can be presented as information but the town will not speak on their behalf.

There was a question raised by the town administrator about how the billing for the presentation by Goldie and Associates would be divided.

Council unanimously approved second reading on the purchase of Lot 2 of the Gatewood Subdivision. The purchase allows an additional access to the waste water treatment plant. First reading on the purchase was held during a special meeting held Sept. 25.

As town administrator, Lollis said she has contacted several structural engineers about evaluating damage done to the Municipal Center Building by water and termites.

She said there were no responses to advertising for a structural engineer, but Williamston resident Mike Looper, who is running unapposed for the Ward 4 Council seat, had provided some names.

Town improvements

Council addressed several issues involving recent improvements including a ribbon cutting for the downtown streetscape project for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, October 20.

A walk through held last week found several minor issues which should be completed on the $161,430 project this week.

The project came in under budget and allowed a retaining wall around a fire hydrant on the Town Square Center side of the street to be upgraded, he said.

In a 3-2 vote, Council approved paying an invoice for $8500 for installation of decorative lights recently placed in Mineral Spring Park.

The 10 decorative lights were purchased by members of the Springwater Committee with donations from several area business and individuals. The light poles will be painted Charleston green, according to Clardy.

Councilman Otis Scott voted against paying the invoice stating that he didn’t know anything about the installation cost and that a second estimate should have been requested. Councilman David Harvell didn’t indicate whether he opposed the payment but did not offically vote either way.

Council unanimously agreed to authorize the mayor to check with SCDOT about placing decorative lights, similar to those installed in the park, on the pillars of the Hwy. 20, Main St. bridge.

Following a lengthy executive session which included discussion on the waste water treatment plant upgrade and land contracts associated with the project, Council returned to public session announcing that no action had been taken.

They approved submission of several paving projects to the county and then adjourned.

Following the meeting , Mayor Clardy stated that the negotiations were ongoing for property for the WWTP land application process.

Landmarks demolished

Two are landmarks in the Williamston area are no longer standing after work crews began demolishing them Tuesday. Work crews were tearing down a structure which housed Gus’s Palmetto Grill, a familiar restaurant which has been closed for over a year. The restaurant was located a the site of a former gas station which was purchased by Sphinx. Although no definite details have been made public, a sign at the location states work will begin on a new facility in 2009. The old Attaway building on Mill St. was also torn down Tuesday. The building which once housed Attaway office supplies, was most recently used as a social hall by Grace United Methodist Church. It was built in the early 1950s. Church officials said there are no plans for the site at present other than use as parking.

Body of missing man recovered from Saluda River

After five days in the Saluda River near Pelzer,  the body of Gregory Lane Allen, aka Michael Russell, was found by workers at the Saluda River Power Plant.

Allen, a forty six year old white male, who used the name Michael Russell for the last several years, had been reported as missing Wednesday afternoon, October 1. The presence of his clothes and wallet on the riverbank was somewhat puzzling until those who knew him told authorities he was in the habit of wading into the river to free his hook or line when it got caught on something.

That is apparently why he went into the river Wednesday, according to Anderson County Deputy Coroner Don McCown.  Allen was fishing near Dolly Lane at the time of his death.

“As best we can tell, he went into the water to free his line and simply never came out of the river. A toxicity screen was conducted during the autopsy and he had both alcohol and illicit drugs in his system. In the absence of any physical trauma or wounds, accidental drowning appears to be the cause of death.”

 McCown said Allen was apparently evicted from his residence in the last few weeks and along with his dog, had been living along the river since then. “It appears he may have been wanted on some minor bench warrants from some states up north, which is why we think he used the name Russell,” said McCown.

Fingerprints taken from his truck confirmed his actual identity.

CPST makes push in Powdersville

By Stan Welch

The push for a one cent sales tax to fund capital projects in the county came to Powdersville this week, as members of the political and business community gathered to meet with and inform the public about the proposed tax and the projects it would finance.

Approximately 35 people attended an informational meeting at the Powdersville Library. Also on hand were representatives of the Anderson Chamber of Commerce and the Powdersville chapter of the Easley Chamber of Commerce. David Jones and Rusty Burns, who have served on the last two Capital Project Sales Tax  (CPST) commissions, presented their case and answered questions.

Among the high points of the presentation were the facts that the tax, which has a legally imposed life of seven years or the collection of the amount named in the referendum, is expected to generate $163 million over its life. That number includes a projected $148 million in available funds, and an additional $15 million in bond interest, and is based on last year’s retail sales of $1.92 billion in Anderson County.

Jones pointed out that in addition to the many road and bridge projects on the list, which is also a part of the referendum question which will appear on the general election ballot in November, there are a total of seventy bridges in Anderson County that must be replaced in the next twenty years. “At an average cost of a half million to bring these bridges up to standard, we’re talking about $35 million. At the same time, the budget for the road department doesn’t even let them keep up with the paving they need to do each year. We are falling twenty five miles or more behind each year. Property taxes simply cannot generate enough money to meet the needs we have for paving and bridges and road repairs.”

Jones also stressed that the Commission, which was dissolved in May after County Council unanimously approved the referendum question, worked very hard to distribute the money and the projects as evenly throughout the county as possible. “We planned to use the tax strictly for roads and bridges at first, but after meeting with people and leaders from all over the county, we realized that was not the best way to go. Some areas in the county have suffered from the drought because there are no water lines in to them, and wells have dried up. At a meeting at Starr-Iva, we had more than a hundred families who didn’t have access to water. That is a real need and a worthy use of these funds.”

According to figures provided by the Good Cents for Anderson County organization, 87% of the funds will be used for bridges and roads, while 13% would be used for other projects, such as a fire department, and water and sewer projects in some areas.

Jones and Burns also pointed out that the sales tax, if passed, would essentially be a jobs bill for the county as well. “With construction of this scope going on in the county for seven years, the number of jobs created and the benefits to businesses of all kinds, will result in the greatest economic impact in the history of the county,” said Jones.

If the tax is approved, it will begin to be collected in May of 2009 and will automatically come off the books in May of 2016, as prescribed by state law. The funds would be administered by a committee to be appointed by County Council, as well as by state officials. An independent auditor to audit the projects was also approved by Council in May.

Sue Cleveland school finalist in national contest

Sue Cleveland Elementary School in Piedmont is a top 10 finalist in a national contest in which students, parents, teachers and the community were invited to nominate an area of their school in need of a transformation.

The school is competing for online votes to determine which school will win $25,000 for renovations from Henkel, one of the country’s largest marketers of household brands, including Dial® soaps, Purex® laundry detergents, Renuzit® air fresheners, Loctite® adhesives and Right Guard® antiperspirants. All it takes is a visit to and the click of a mouse.

Sue Cleveland was chosen by a panel of Henkel judges selected in the Henkel Helps Schools contest from more than 1,500 nominations. 

Read the full entries and vote for the school that most deserves Henkel’s help by visiting through Oct. 19. The school with the most online votes will receive a visit from Henkel representatives, who will present a $25,000 check to the deserving school. The two schools with the second and third most votes will each win $2,500 for school enhancements. Only one vote is allowed per person per day. Full contest rules are available on the Henkel Helps Schools Web site at

Ethanol facility receives incentives, continues to be issue for residents

By Stan Welch

In a marathon meeting of more than four and a half hours, the Anderson County Council gave first reading approval to an incentive package for Lincoln Oil Company, which is seeking to build an ethanol facility at the Belton tank farm, but tabled a resolution to close Lewis Drive, which is adjacent to the proposed site.

Council also narrowly approved an amended version of a special source revenue bond for construction of new hangars at the Anderson Airport. The amended version restructured the bond, so that the money could be borrowed as needed, instead of all at once. The bonds, as approved, would be issued in a series, as one hangar was built and fully occupied, rather than building several hangars at once.

But it was a rare and unannounced executive session at the end of the meeting, and the circumstances surrounding it, that left the few people still remaining at the end of the meeting buzzing about the purpose of the session.

For weeks there have been rumors that the current Council, which includes three lame ducks who were all longtime supporters of County Administrator Joey Preston, was preparing to buy out Preston’s contract in anticipation that the new Council would be putting Preston and his administration under intense and possibly uncomfortable scrutiny.

Monday night, those rumors gained some traction, as the Council unexpectedly voted at the end of the meeting to go into executive session “to discuss obtaining legal counsel in relation to a pending legal claim against Anderson County” according to Chairman Michael Thompson.

The closed session lasted for thirty minutes before Council came out and voted to hire Thomas A. Bright, of the Ogletree Deakins Law Firm. 

Mr. Thompson warned Council members that the matter was a personnel issue and was not to be discussed. Fueling the speculation was the fact that Preston left the meeting when the closed door session was announced and did not return before Council adjourned. District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson  asked where he had gone and was ignored by the Chairman.

Lincoln Oil/Ethanol issue

Council heard from Jim Farish, president of Lincoln Oil Company, as they considered an incentive package that included  a fee in lieu of taxes (FILOT) and infrastructure credits, among other enticements. Earlier in the evening Steven Chapman, who has spearheaded public opposition to the closing of Lewis Drive, as well as the locating of the ethanol facility at that site, had presented a petition with 114 names on it, all in opposition to the proposal.

Farish told Council that his company no longer considered closing Lewis Drive to be essential. “I have made a significant capital investment in a switch that would not require the closing of Lewis Drive. That is no longer an issue for Lincoln Oil, but for the railroad. I am told that they have safety concerns because the tank cars would be sitting on those tracks for as much as a week at a time.”

Farish also stated that between CSX Railroad, Greenville & Western Railroad, as well as Lincoln Oil Company, approximately ten miles of track will be upgraded to a standard required to bring in unit trains of eighty cars at a time. He also answered a question by Councilman Ron Wilson about the concerns of the community by listing the various agencies which he said would regulate his company’s operations.

Councilwoman Wilson challenged that statement, saying, “I have asked both our U.S. Senators and a U.S. Representative, as well as two state Senators and a state Representative to find the regulations that govern this kind of operation. None of them have been able to do that, so I don’t know how we can give these families any assurance of safety.”

Wilson also made a motion to table the incentive package until after an October 20 meeting between residents of the area and DHEC officials. Her motion to table was defeated by a vote of 2-4. Councilman Bill McAbee  recused himself from the vote due to his business involvement with the project.

Councilwoman Gracie Floyd suggested the company take the money it would save on taxes under the FILOT arrangement and “reach an arrangement that would make everyone happy. Help them in relocating.”

Council voted 5-1-1 to give first reading approval to the incentive package and to continue looking into the other issues. 

Council did however, at the motion of Councilman Ron Wilson, agree to table the resolution that would have abandoned Lewis Drive, paving the way for its closure by the railroad.

A public meeting will be held at Cedar Grove Elementary School at 6:30 p.m., on Monday, Oct. 20th. DHEC officials will answer questions and concerns of citizens regarding the ethanol facility

Airport hangars

A proposed $2.25 million special source revenue bond designed to finance construction of a total of 24 hangars at the airport was the subject of much discussion, some of it heated.

Councilwoman Wilson immediately made a motion to table the bond until a half million dollars already approved was spent on constructing the one hangar facility. “Let’s build that facility and when it is fully leased and paying for itself, we can finance another one,” said Wilson. Her motion was defeated by a vote of 2-5, with Councilman Waldrep joining her. It was a pattern that continued throughout the night.

Anderson Airport Commission Chairman Dr. John Hunt spoke to Council and conceded that recent financial developments have caused a review of the request. “Instead of building 24 hangars, we would recommend building twelve T hangars and no corporate hangars until we have a signed lease for their use. The financial downturn has certainly given the Airport Commission some heartburn about this proposal.”

Council voted 5-2 to substitute the amended version of the ordinance, reflecting the less grand scale of phase one. The ordinance would still have authorized the full amount, but the bonds would have been issued in series, as the additional financing was needed.

Councilman Larry Greer proposed an amendment that would have reduced the number of T hangars from three to two, the number of corporate hangars from two to one, and left the proposal to construct one shade hangar intact. Preston pointed out to Greer that if his proposal passed, a separate ordinance would be required to build any more hangars in the future. Greer said he did understand that.

Councilman Waldrep and County Administrator Preston had a lively exchange as Waldrep tried to equate the reduced scale of the projects with how much money would be saved. He asked County Transportation Director Holt Hopkins for the numbers but he didn’t have them on hand.

Preston then offered to find them for Waldrep in his media packet. Waldrep finally elicited the information that estimates for the various construction projects were available. “Well, that’s what I’m asking for Mr. Preston. If you have that information, perhaps you could share it?”

The amendment, which would have reduced the initial amount borrowed by $1.5 million, was defeated by a vote of 3-3-1 with Councilman Ron Wilson abstaining. The amended ordinance as presented before Greer’s motion, was passed by a vote of 4-3 with Waldrep, Wilson, and Wilson opposing.

Next meeting

Council also clashed on their attempts to reschedule the November 4 Council meeting. After several minutes of trying to accommodate the various members’ scheduling conflicts, Mr. Waldrep moved to simply cancel it. That motion was defeated.

Ms. Wilson and Waldrep were clearly willing to give the lame duck majority one less meeting to conduct business. It was just as clear that the majority was determined to retain that opportunity.

After another motion to simply cancel the meeting was defeated, a motion by Councilman Bill McAbee to meet on November 3rd was passed 4-2-1 despite Ms. Wilson’s protests that she had pre

Clerk of Court arrested for not paying withholding

By Stan Welch

Anderson County Clerk of Court Cathy Phillips was arrested and booked on six tax related charges last Friday. She was later arraigned and released on a total of $30,000 personal recognizance bonds.

 The charges were not related to her Office, or her duties as Clerk of Court. Phillips, who has not been available for comment, was charged with six counts of failing to collect, account for or pay over withholding taxes associated with her husband Donnie Phillips’ drywall business, DTP Drywall Inc. 

According to the warrants, Phillips functioned as bookkeeper for DTP Drywall during the years between 2003 and 2008. During that time, taxes in amounts ranging from $8560 to $12,200 were withheld but not paid over to South Carolina Tax Commission officials. The total amount of taxes owed, according to the warrants, totaled just over $58,000.

Phillips, whose son Jason is Anderson County Treasurer, is running unopposed for reelection. 

State Chamber recognizes O’Dell

By Stan Welch

Senator Billy O’Dell continues to enhance his status as the favorite solon of the business community. After being named the 2007 Small Business Legislator of the Year, he followed it up this year by being selected as the Public Servant of the Year by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

O’Dell, who is running for reelection, is seeking to extend his twenty years as a state Senator and a strong supporter of small businesses. He owns a company which assembles and distributes mops and brooms, and cleaning supplies all over the nation, and has real world experience about the challenges small businesses face. He has been a long time supporter of the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

He returned home to Ware Shoals after his father became ill, and eventually took over the business which his father started in 1945. He still laughs when telling a story of a traffic ticket he got in Chicago because he was too inexperienced to know that the truck he was delivering brooms in had to stay in a certain lane in the downtown area.

“I told the policeman I didn’t have a hundred and fifty dollars. Way back then that was a huge amount of money, especially for a traffic ticket. He said that was fine, they had plenty of room at the jail. About halfway there I miraculously found the extra money I needed in my pocket. I didn’t know much back then, but I knew I didn’t need to be going to jail in Chicago.”

Today, his company employs 130 people and has a nationwide clientele. His company conducts business overseas as well, and is working to expand its markets.

His understanding of what small businesses need to flourish is evidenced by his legislative scorecard on key votes for the business community. His rating was a perfect 100. He continues to be a leader in his support of economic development initiatives around the Upstate area. “Infrastructure cannot be overvalued in that effort,” said Senator O’Dell. “Water, sewer, power, and transportation systems are literally the life blood of any healthy economy. Incentives can play a role, but nothing draws industry like infrastructure.”

O’Dell is a lifetime resident of the Upstate. Born in Laurens County, he worked in Augusta briefly before returning home to assume control of the family business.

 The award will be presented to Senator O’Dell on Thursday, November 13 at the Chamber’s 29th Annual Summit, during the Chamber’s annual meeting. Senator O’Dell will speak to the Chamber’s Board of Directors meeting as well. In addition to Senator O’Dell’s recognition, Rep. James Smith will receive the Sgt. William Jasper Freedom Award and the S. Hunter Howard Jr. Scholarship and the Ron McNair Leadership Scholarship will both be presented to two deserving students from the state.

Seems to Me . . . Remembering Jerry Lee

By Stan Welch

Well, it’s hard to believe, but it’s been over a year since old Jerry Lee went to fire hydrant heaven. For those of you who didn’t know Jerry Lee, he was a Springer spaniel who was at once the smartest and the dumbest dog I have ever had.

Smart or dumb, he was the coolest dog I ever had, fully deserving of his namesake’s nickname, Da Killa. Jerry Lee wasn’t good for much, except hanging out with. He didn’t really like the sound of gun fire, which for a bird dog is a lot like being a surgeon who can’t stand the sight of blood. It wasn’t as if he would flinch and run when I fired a gun near him, even after a neighbor of mine had shot him one night in a drunken state. The neighbor was drunk, not Jerry Lee.

Seems this old boy came home late one night with a pretty good load on, and Jerry, who was patrolling the property line for a change, came out of nowhere and just about scared the boy into a urinary accident. The fella said Jerry came after him, but the only person I ever saw Jerry go after was an animal control officer one morning. That’s another story.

I’d rather not get into details on the ensuing ten minutes(statute of limitations and all), but I believe that old boy has been sober ever since. I guess it was a good thing he’d been drinking because he hit Jerry in the rear leg, instead of the ribs where he aimed, leaving what looked like a .32 caliber bullet on the X-ray in his ham. It was a bullet old Jerry carried to his grave.

But I digress. Jerry Lee, as I said, didn’t turn tail and run when I fired a gun, either shooting skeet or just burning some powder. No, he just sort of slunk down and looked at me as if to say, “You got to make all that noise?” Then he’d ease off ten or fifteen yards to where it wasn’t quite so loud and lie down until I was ready to go.

What Jerry lacked in hunting skills, he more than made up for in his angling abilities. After we moved up here, we would often go fishing in one of two ponds on my brother-in-law’s property. Now, bass fishing is okay, but it’s hard to drink a cold beer and crank those lures back to shore constantly. So over the years, I’ve become a bobber fisherman. I don’t mind throwing a top water plug or a beetle spin for bream, but my favorite is a cricket and cork. I use an ultra light bait casting rig, with a weighted cork so I can cast forty or fifty feet out from shore.

Just throw it out there, and if a fish bites at an inopportune time, just flip the bail and set the hook, until you can find a flat spot to put your beverage down in.

The problem was that Jerry Lee, who wouldn’t fetch a stick or a tennis ball on a bet, just loved to dive in and go after that bobber. I spent half my time reeling like the dickens just to keep stupid from swallowing a bream hook.

But for all his aggravating ways, he had a big heart and he didn’t bark a lot at night, unless there was a reason. Of course, most nights, he was out making his rounds. Jerry was what you call an alpha male. He liked to dance with the ladies and fight with the fellas. Lord, did he like to fight.

He was a rascal, and a rounder, and a bit of a scoundrel. But there wasn’t a mean bone in him, and I never even saw him snap at anyone. 

I took old Jerry Lee up to the animal shelter near my house in Conway one Saturday to get him his shots. I had him in the camper shell on my pickup truck and I asked the vet to come out to the truck and give him his shots, because there were a lot of other dogs around. Did I mention Jerry Lee liked to fight?

 As soon as I opened that shell just a crack, he shot past me like a bolt and headed straight down the middle of Highway 90 towards the house, a half mile away. Highway 90 is the back road from Conway to North Myrtle Beach, and it is busy and deadly, especially for retarded dogs. So I jump in the truck and go tearing past him up the road. I jump out to catch him and he turns and goes back. This went on for several minutes, until Jerry decided to go into a two or three acre patch of swamp. He waded out about thirty feet and crawled up under a big old bush that had snake written all over it.

I waded in up to my waist and called him. I called him very sweetly but Jerry knew better. He knew when I got him by the scruff I was gonna beat his ears off. I’m a bit of an alpha male myself, and anyone with dogs will tell you that there’s only one of those per pack.

About that time, one of the animal control officers who had been helping me try and catch that hairbag edged down to the side of the swamp. “Ain’t coming out is he?” he asked.

“No he’s not. But let me ask you. Can I borrow that Glock pistol you’re wearing? I believe I can get a clean shot from here.”

“Man, I can’t loan you my gun to shoot that dog. They’d fire me.”

 “Sell it to me then. I’ll give you $400 for it. It would definitely be worth it to shoot this &%#*# dog and get out of this swamp,” I told him. He remained stubborn.

As I continued to up my offer, I heard a sloshing behind me. Fully expecting to see a gator, I turned and there was Jerry Lee, right at my side, covered in mud and smelling like a septic tank cleaner. Shamefaced, but with that goofy grin he always had, he tentatively reached out and licked my hand. I ignored him, something he never would tolerate. So he nudged his head up under my hand so it rested on his big dome of a noggin.

I looked down and he looked up. Worthless durn dog. We walked to the truck and I threw him and a ruined pair of tennis shoes in the back of the truck. We went back to the shelter and he sat perfectly still while he got his rabies shot, once the vet found a place not covered in mud where he could stick the needle. I then threw him and a ruined pair of jeans in the back of the truck.

I hosed him off while I explained to my wife at the time why I came home in my underwear, when all I did was go to get Jerry his shots.

Thinking about it now, it seems to me, maybe it wasn’t the sound of guns that bothered old Jerry Lee. Maybe he wasn’t as dumb as I thought. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t as smart as I thought.








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