News Archive

Front Page week of Oct. 15, 2008

News
(4208) Week of October 15, 2008

Street relocation may pave way for grocery
Forest Hills sewer rate increases before hook on to WWTP
More background on Forest Hills sewer
Sewer rates increase for Pelzer residents
No cost of living raise for West Pelzer employees
Boo in the Park planned for Oct. 25
Local projects on referendum
No identity of skeletal remains
Economy affecting local development
Rick Bell running for school board
Woodmont to present Macbeth
Yard, bake sale to help with medical expenses
Several cars taken by area thieves

Street relocation may pave way for grocery
ATCT approves funding

By Stan Welch

A major piece of the puzzle that is the downtown revitalization of Williamston fell into place Monday as the Anderson County Transportation Committee (ACTC) committed $373,000 for the relocation of Pelzer Avenue.

That commitment, and the subsequent relocation of the street that currently intersects the Town Square Center parking lot, is expected to remove a major hurdle to local businessman Jim Simpson’s efforts to attract a major supermarket to the location.

Town Councilman Otis Scott, along with the town’s grant writer, Rusty Burns, appeared before the ACTC Monday, which had promised several months ago to consider the request. That promise came after a committee consisting of Simpson, Mayor Phillip Clardy, Burns, GWBA president John Thomason, and Journal publisher David Meade appeared before the Committee seeking the funding.

Scott also had appeared before the committee with Burns at that meeting seeking funding for resurfacing of Academy St. and other projects which were approved. The Academy St. paving project has recently been completed.

In July a resolution approving the Pelzer Avenue relocation and the Academy St. request was passed by council with two members, Councilmen Marion Middleton, Jr. and Carthel Crout dissenting.

The ATCT request for funding for Pelzer Avenue relocation was postponed after some confusion arose about delaying paving for Academy St. resulting in the Council voting to separate the two projects, letting each stand alone. Councilman Scott was also designated by the

The project will reroute Pelzer Avenue in order to bring it out to Main  Street at the existing intersection with Mill St., thereby creating a true four way intersection, and easing ingress and egress to the shopping center site.

Simpson has repeatedly stated that such an adjustment is essential to his ability to attract a major supermarket to the area.

Forest Hills sewer rate increases before hooking on to WWTP

A presentation to Forest Hills subdivision residents Tuesday answered questions about the upgrade of their sewer treatment facility and about their bills which include charges from three entities.

Most of the residents seemed to have a different perspective on the rates being charged after hearing the presentation and getting answers to some of their questions.

The presentation was made by Sonya Harrison, representative of Goldie and Associates Engineering firm which is contracted by the town to run the town’s treatment facility and is working on upgrades to the town’s system.

Goldie and Associates also owns the Forest Hills sewer system, known as Jacabb Utilities, including the lagoon, lines and a new pump station.

The treatment facility was constructed in the late 1970s to service the new subdivision which is located just outside of The Town of Williamston.

Jacabb Utilities took over management and ownership of the Forest Hills system in 2004.

Goldie and Associates soon became owners and is in the process of upgrading the system to hook onto the Williamston system for treatment.

At the time Jacabb Utilities was under a DHEC consent order to either upgrade the lagoon system or tie into a regional plant and close out the lagoon, Harrison said.

When work is completed and the systems are in service, the Forest Hills lagoon will be closed out, drained, sludge removed and equipment removed, according to Harrison. Jacabb will maintain sewer lines in the subdivision, add new lines if necessary and repair leaks and other problems.

Harrison said the lift station construction and lines to tie in the systems are complete and a permit has been issued but it has not been placed into service due to some electrical issues.

She said the system should be online in the next few weeks.

While most of the questions from residents were related to billing charges, others included why they were being charged when the system was not working yet and why they couldn’t just put in a septic tank instead. Many complained about the high rate they are being charged.

Their billing includes charges from Jacabb Utilities, Anderson County and The Town of Williamston. An average bill is around $82.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said the purpose of the public forum was not to discuss the Anderson County or Jacabb Utility portion of the bill, but to focus on the town’s portion and answer questions.

A majority of the total bill, more than half, is billing from Anderson County.

Why are three entities involved in the billing?

According to Harrison, Jacabb Utilities, which serves 33 houses in the Forest Hills subdivision, will be discharging into the Town of Williamston Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).

Since the town has no extra permitted capacity in their plant until the current upgrade is finished, Jacabb Utilities had to purchase a portion of County capacity.

Anderson County owns 300,000 gallons of capacity in the WWTP which was contracted in exchange for $500,000 in funding to help with a DHEC mandated upgrade of the facility in 1987. The capacity was to be available if ever needed in the future for development or industry.

How does it work?

Anderson County is now a sewer customer of Williamston and the town will bill Anderson County for treatment at the same rates as customers inside the city limits. The invoice will be based on the flow meter readings.

Jacabb Utilities is a customer of Anderson County and the County bills Jacabb Utilities based on the flow meter readings. 

Jacabb Utilities bills residents for sewer based on a flat rate.

Current billing rates were approved in 2004 by the Public Service Commission based on figures presented when the Forest Hills treatment system was still owned by J. C. Cox. (The rates were part of the sale of the system to Jacabb Utilities.)

According to Harrison, Jacabb had to purchase 32,000 gallons per day capacity from Anderson County. Jacabb paid the county $1000 per house for this capacity to “hook on.”

Harrison replied to a question of why residents were already being billed the higher rates when the system had not been placed into service. She said the company can begin billing to pay for the upgrades already made including the lines, pump station and the new flow meter.

Harrison explained that the rates were set in 2004 based on information presented to the PSC by the owner of the system at that time.

Mayor Phillip Clardy said that when the town was first approached by the new owners about hooking onto the town system, they couldn’t justify it.

“We couldn’t justify it to our customers or to you and could not take a pig in  poke,” he said. “We went to Columbia to argue in your defense.”

As to why a septic tank could not be installed, Mayor Clardy said DHEC compliance would not allow it and his understanding was that many of the properties in the subdivision would not perk at the time.

“DHEC says if there is a treatment facility within proximity of your home you have to hook on,” he said.

Clardy said he felt the town was being blamed for the fees and explained that the town’s portion of their bill is based on 85% of water consumption.

As for other alternatives, Harrison explained that the cost of upgrading the Forest Hills treatment lagoon and discharging into a small creek was significantyly higher than the cost of the Williamston upgrade and would be in the millions of dollars.

 “We chose to regionalize  which also provides a lower cost to customers,” she said.

The town’s land application process upgrade which is underway will solve a number of problems including the capacity issue.

“Once the upgrade is complete and we are released of that capacity, council could perhaps negotiate with you,” Clardy said. Clardy said he would take the issue to Williamston Town Council to get approval to write a letter to Jacabb Utilities providing information on how much water is actually used by each of the Forest Hills customers.

Clardy also said that if the town provides the information and the consumption formula to the PSC, they may reconsider the rate structure.

More background on Forest Hills sewer

In 2004, the South Carolina Public Service Commission approved a three tier phased-in rate increase for J.C. Cox Utilities. At the time, Forest Hills residents were paying an artificially low rate of $14.85, a rate that left Cox Utility with an operating margin of minus 380 per cent.

Stated in another way, the utility spent more than $26,000 to operate the system, while the customers paid just over $6000 for the service.

The PSC realized that as well; however, they also realized that the increases needed to provide Cox Utilities with a reasonable profit margin would impose an extraordinary burden on the customers.

The order issued by the PSC in 2004 stated, “The Commission finds that the public interest requires phased-in rates in order to lessen the impact of such a dramatic increase in rates.”

That order established a structure that would result in a first phase increase of $15.65, bringing the bill to $30.50 and reducing the operating margin to a minus 139.61 per cent. The second rate phase-in began on August 1 this year, and increased the cost to $53.16. That reduces the operating margin to a minus 39 per cent.

Shortly after this rate increase was approved, Cox Utilities, which had been owned by Jeff and Crystal Ellison, was purchased by Steve Goldie, of Goldie & Associates, the engineering firm which is currently handling the Town’s sewer upgrades.

The order was issued in March of 2004, and in May of that year, Steve Goldie registered Jacabb Utilities, LLC with the Secretary of State’s Office. Those documents identify him as the registered agent and sole owner.

See related background information online at www.thejournalonline.com/front4902.htm.

Sewer rates increase for Pelzer residents

By Stan Welch

The Pelzer Town Council met last Friday and conducted several items of business. 

They gave first reading approval to an ordinance that will increase the sewer rates charged by the town, as well as the late fees. The base rate for two months will go from $14.60 to $17.37 sent for the first two thousand gallons used. Each additional thousand gallons will go from $2.77 per thousand to $3.77 per thousand. The purpose of the increase is to develop a contingency fund for unexpected expenses at the treatment plant. Final approval is slated for the November meeting.

They also voted to fund half of the cost of the West Pelzer October Festival, at a cost of $1200. $4200 was appropriated to build a handicap ramp to provide access to the gym building. Darren Darby, of Pelzer, will do the work.

Council also agreed to lease the magistrate’s office to the Friends of Pelzer. The lease would be limited to a maximum of seven years. Terms of the lease remain to be worked out.

The amount of $3074 and applicable sales tax were approved for the purchase of two new backboards.

The Town, at Mayor Ken Davis’s request, agreed to donate a 60 foot by 80 foot parcel of land to the Pelzer Rescue Squad, at the site of the new building. It will allow for gentler turns in the larger vehicles. The squad will pay all costs, such as surveying and legal work.

Heather Holcombe, administrative assistant, reported that Holiday Fair has about 25 vendors signed up. It will be held on Saturday, November 22 from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m. for more info, call 947-6532.

She also announced that the Christmas Parade will be on December 6 at a time to be announced.

No cost of living raise for West Pelzer employees

By Stan Welch

It was a testy night at the West Pelzer Council meeting, as the Council continued its mimicry of the County Council, with a rock solid three member majority voting together on almost every issue.

Things got so heated that Councilman Marshall King expressed his decision not to seek reelection when the time comes. Mayor Peggy Paxton, during a discussion of the Palmetto Pride beautification project, had challenged him over a visit to the Town Hall during which he reportedly challenged the Beautification Committee’s authority to make certain decisions.

“What questions do you have, Marshall? You had some Thursday, why don’t you have some today when we are all in the room together?” demanded Paxton.

King retorted, “You’ve been on me for three years, and I’m just about tired of it. I don’t have to bow down to you. I’m tired of this.” “Good! Maybe you’ll remember that next election,” said Paxton. “Oh, I won’t be running again,” he said. “I wouldn’t have the job again.”

Despite the acrimonious tone of the meeting, a few things got accomplished. Council actually managed a unanimous vote, to pay long time town engineering consultant Bill Dunn all the money that was owed him on the last project he completed for the town. The bill came to $21,500.

The Council voted 3-2 to deny second reading of a grass and weed ordinance, despite the fact that all the changes in the ordinance requested at the last meeting were made in accordance with the majority’s wishes.

Councilman Joe Turner objected that the town has such an ordinance already. Mayor Peggy Paxton responded that the ordinance as it stands is unenforceable. “That’s the whole point. We can’t enforce it.”

Turner said the law was just an attempt to go after John Cox, who owns undeveloped land along Main Street. Councilman Marshall King argued that such properties had been there for years and no owners had followed the ordinance. “That’s because we don’t have any means of enforcing it,” repeated Paxton.

Councilman Jimmy Jeanes pointed out that there are a number of decrepit buildings along Main Street that will also defeat the purpose of the ordinance as well as the proposed downtown beautification project. Paxton agreed but added it had nothing to do with the question at hand.

The proposed ordinance, including the changes requested by Turner and King at the first reading, would allow the town to clean up lots which the owners refused to clean, and bill the landowner for the actual costs of the work, If the owner refused or failed to pay, the amount would be added to the property taxes and collected that way.

Following a 2-2-1 vote, Mayor Paxton challenged King for his abstention. She also stated that the Town might as well throw its book of ordinances “out in Highway 8, since we’re not going to have any rules in West Pelzer.”

The tension died down briefly as all five members of the Council agreed to first reading approval of an ordinance to lower the tax millage from 95 to point 93, in order to “cushion the effects of the recent reassessment by the county. We’re going to roll this back to help the citizens of West Pelzer out,” said Paxton.

Following the brief cease fire, things began to heat up. The question of uniforms for town employees came up again. Mayor Paxton reported that, per Councilman King’s request at the last meeting, she had obtained the cost of providing uniforms for the town’s water and sewer department employees. The cost would be twelve dollars per week per person, or a total of $1872 dollars. Jeanes asked what brought the issue back up and was told that at the previous meeting, which he missed due to illness, Council was told about an incident which had occurred.

During that incident, a town employee was trying to capture a stray dog with a tranquilizer dart gun. A citizen saw him with the gun and no identifiable uniform, and called 911. A county deputy responded and things had to be cleared up to avoid an arrest. Jeanes said a uniform wouldn’t help in such a situation, and that he might shoot the employee himself if he found him in his yard with a gun.

After further discussion, Council voted 3-2 not to replace the cost of uniforms in the budget. Jeanes tried to continue the discussion, and Paxton cut him off, saying, “I am Mayor and I’m running this meeting. If you continue to discuss this after the vote, you will be removed.”

Up next was the question of bids on providing garbage pickup for the town. Some confusion on one of the bids led Councilman Turner to suggest delaying action on the issue, but Paxton was having none of that. “Today is the day we’re doing this,” she said. “These people met our deadline and they are here to find out who gets the bid.”

She made sure to inform everyone that one of the bidders, Cummings Sanitation, listed King as one of his references. Paxton wanted to discuss the bids in executive session, but was told by Town Attorney Carey Murphy that such information is public. The discussion continued, with Paxton trying to make sure that Cummings Sanitation, which entered the low bid by $2500, was equipped and qualified to fulfill the contract.

She stated that the current contractor, Upstate Sanitation, had done a great job for the town. Upstate had bid $19,200 for the contract, while Cummings came in at $16,700. Several other bids were received but all were significantly higher than the two lowest, and were quickly discarded. She appeared to be questioning the relationship between Cummings and himself, confirming for the record that King was the Council member who first requested that the contract be re-bid this year.

Both Paxton and Councilman Moran told Mr. Jigs Cummings, who was present, that there would be no rate increase during the life of the contract. “Please understand that three months from now, we’re not going to come back and increase this contract to $19,200. This won’t be a case of bidding low to get the contract and then coming back and increasing the rate,” said Paxton.

Moran moved to accept the bid, and Paxton and King both abstained from voting.

Moran and Jeanes had several lively exchanges, during a discussion requested by Moran about the removal of a cost of living increase for town employees from the budget. Jeanes talked about the general state of the economy and whether the town would be able to meet its budget this year. Moran said it was unfair to punish the town employees out of fear that something might happen. “These folks deserve a raise. We had it in the budget and took it out. I think we should replace it.”

Jeanes said that one town employee told him he didn’t mind not getting the raise. He just minded losing the clothing allowance that each employee had. Moran again objected, saying, “We are controlling these people’s incomes because of some irrational fear you have, Jimmy.”

Hal Jones, a town employee, asked to speak and told Jeanes that the employee in question had actually said that he didn’t like not getting a raise but what really bothered him was actually having something taken away from them.

Moran moved to restore the earlier 3% cost of living increase in the budget. It was defeated by a vote of 3-2. 

Council did vote to reformulate the planning commission, expanding it to twelve members and requiring all of them to both complete the required training and to be active in the operations of the commission. That vote was unanimous.

Boo in the Park planned for Oct. 25

Boo in the Park will be held on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 6 p.m .to 9 p.m. in Mineral Spring Park.

Area churches, businesses and organizations are sponsoring the event which will feature free trick or treat candy, games, entertainment and a special appearance by Ronald McDonald.

Jack’s Drum Shack will provide entertainment on the Amphitheater stage and Ronald McDonald, sponsored by McDonald’s of Williamston, will present a magic show.

A halloween costume contest will be held for ages 12 and under. Participants must register before the contest, organizers said.

The Williamston Fire Department will offer Spook Rides on the town’s Antique Fire Engine and the Williamston Area Historic Commission will have ghost stories in the Scout Hut.

For additional information or to participate call Dianne Lollis at 864-847-5743 or Ellen Harvell at 847-5588.

Local projects on referendum

By Stan Welch 

 If the proposed one cent capital project sales tax referendum is approved in November, Williamston would receive several benefits, the most substantial being the Ida Tucker Road Extension.

The project is budgeted for $8 million and would extend Ida Tucker Road from where it currently intersects Cherokee Road across two substantial tracts of undeveloped land to eventually intersect Beaverdam Road.

“The project, if funded, would solve two major traffic issues for the Town. One is the need for all school traffic to use the same route through town. The other is that commercial trucks are funneled right down Main Street and take a heavy toll on our roads. Another benefit is that two rather large tracts of undeveloped land will be opened up to possible residential development, which could of course help the town’s economy,” said Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy.

The project is one of several unanimously approved by the Town Council at a February 18 meeting earlier this year. The other three projects include replacing or adding sidewalks near the schools; add or replace sidewalks along Greenville Dr. from Hamilton Street to the Lander Memorial Library; and the Mauldin Road Extension to Minor Street.

The Capital Project Sales Tax will be voted on as a referendum item on November 4. If approved, it would impose a one cent sales tax in Anderson County for seven years, or until $168 million is collected, whichever comes first.

The funds raised would also pay for a number of other projects in The Journal readership area. Among the projects and the amounts budgeted for the area are: Three Bridges Rd. and Mt. Airy Church Rd., $10 million; Midway Rd. reconstruction – phase 1 - $5 million; Pelzer Main St. beautification, $150,000; West Pelzer Town Hall renovation, $300,000; Cely Rd. reconstruction, $4,727,500;  Blake Dairy Rd. reconstruction,$1.1 million; Big Creek Rd. reconstruction, $500,000; Pelzer lift station replacement, $250,000; Pelzer manhole rehabilitation and  infiltration, $250,000; West Pelzer sewer line rehab and infiltration, $50,000; Northview Subdivision sewer system (Belton) $1.1 million; Belton recreation building, $1 million; expansion of water lines for East Calhoun Rd., Blake Dairy Rd., West Rd., and Cherokee Rd., $750,000.

No identity of skeletal remains

By Stan Welch

Efforts continue to establish even the most basic identity of the skeletal remains found in a Piedmont subdivision last Sunday. Scott Ramsey, investigator for the Greenville Coroner’s Office, reports that the remains were purely skeletal, with no tissue remaining. “We are operating on the premise that the victim was a female. We are not certain of that as yet, but it is our best supposition at this time. Our investigation continues.”

The remains were found by two men Sunday afternoon, at around 3:15. The men were reportedly following some deer tracks near the intersection of Marehaven Street and Alystone Way, according to Michael Hildebrand, public information officer for the Greenville County Sheriff.

“While the coroner continues to investigate, the medical examiner’s office informed us Monday afternoon that there is an injury that would lead to a conclusion that the cause of death was homicide. That is how we are pursuing the matter at this time.”

Economy affecting local development

By Stan Welch

The Anderson County Planning Commission acknowledged the current economic conditions both locally and across the nation Tuesday afternoon.

Two votes reflected that awareness of tightening credit and tough financial times. First the Commission voted to extend the letter of credit on file with the county for Wyatt’s Grant, a subdivision located on Cherokee Road  near the intersection of Highway 81 North.

The subdivision is being developed by Chasteen & Edmonds, LLC and contains 27 lots. The plan was originally approved for development in April of 2006. The extension of the letter of credit essentially bonds the developer to comply with the conditions of the approval of the plan.

Vandiver Commons LLC, developers of the 58 lot Vandiver Commons development, which was originally approved in October 2004, sought the same concession, to allow more time to sell properties and build homes in the development.

The Commission unanimously approved both requests, after Chairman Russ Vickery made a statement about the importance of working with the developers due to current economic conditions.

The Commission also heard the first application for rezoning of property in the Three and Twenty precinct since that precinct approved zoning in a referendum earlier this year. The property is a tract of just under 55 acres at the northwest intersection of Three and Twenty Road and Hendricks Road.

The request was to rezone the property from residential/agriculture to R-20. The original plat had been approved but a moratorium on construction until the referendum could be held delayed the start of construction, and the approval expired.

The developer, Curtis Ellison, Jr., assured the Commission that the lots would be at least .6 of an acre or 25,000 square feet in size. While water is available to the site, sewer service is not, requiring that the lots be large enough to be approved for septic tanks.

The Commission voted unanimously to approve the rezoning, since the zoning advisory group for that area also recommended the approval.

The Commission declined to replace the signs currently being used to announce rezoning and other actions with larger signs. Currently, two foot by two foot signs are being used, but there have been numerous claims by members of the public that the signs are either not being put out to inform the public or are too small to be noticed.

 The planning department came up with a 4 X 4 sign that is quite visible, but it would cost approximately $67 apiece. The Commission, again citing the need to save the public some money, suggested that more of the smaller signs, which the county already has, should be used instead. “Perhaps we can develop a formula, based on the road frontage of the particular piece of property, that would indicate how many signs to put out,” suggested Wes Hulsey, the District Six delegate to the Commission.

That suggestion was accepted by the Commission.

Rick Bell running for school board

Rick Bell is running for Anderson School District One Board of Trustees. Bell has 26 years experience in the insurance industry, with 24 of those as an Allstate Insurance agent.

He is a graduate of Palmetto High School and has a BA in History and MA in Education from Furman University. He also holds a state teaching certification.

He is a lifelong member of Whitefield Baptist Church and has served as a Sunday School teacher, deacon, historian and in the music ministry.

Bell said if elected he would place more emphasis on preparing students for college and career. “The district has good test scores and has increased the graduation rate. I am concerned that we focus on these achievements at the expense of good sound instruction in some of the classrooms. Students have to be challenged so that they are prepared to enter college and the job market and prepared to be successful immediately.”

Bell said he would also like to track students after graduation to see if district processes are working. “Are they prepared to go into a challenging college environment or to go straight into the workplace? Are they completing college? Are they able to maintain a steady career?”

He said he would like to review district resources to make sure that they are making the best use of personnel and other resources. 

“Do we have overlapping jobs? Do all of the positions that we have add value? Do we have enough teachers in the classroom? With the challenges of the economy, we must be efficient,” he said.

Bell said he would work to make sure the District attracts the most qualified teachers. “There is a nationwide shortage of teachers. With the planned construction of new schools, we will need more teachers. We need to promote the district heavily with our state colleges to attract the best and brightest.”

Bell said if elected he would be more visible as a trustee in the schools.

“Trustees  should see first hand what is going on in the schools and be available for administrators and teachers.”

Bell also said he wants to maintain fiscal accountability. “District One does a good job in this area. I will continue to do this.”

Bell will face longtime board member Joe Pack in the Nov.. 4 election.

Woodmont to present Macbeth

The Wildcat Players at Woodmont High School, under the direction of Will Ragland, will  perform Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, blending modern elements into a show sure to please the audience.

Show dates are Oct. 31st, Nov. 1st, Nov. 6th, 7th, 8th at 7 p.m.

The public is invited. Tickets are $5 at the door. 

Yard, bake sale to help with medical expenses

A benefit yard sale and bake sale will be held Saturday Oct. 18 for T. C. Ted Thomas of Belton to help with medical costs associated with a kidney pancreas transplant.

The fundraiser will be held  from 7 a.m to 1 p.m. at Belton First Baptist Church gym at 105 Brown Avenue.

Thomas has dealt with juvenile diabetes since he was five years old and over the years the disease has caused a steady decline in his overall health including hardening of his heart muscles, 80 percent paralysis of his stomach and numerous eye surgeries. Now at age 36, he has been disgnosed with end stage renal failure. His doctors have advised that it is time to begin the process of a kidney/pancreas transplant.

 Family members have offered to be a living donor, but no match has been found.

Family members said that the process is stressful and expensive. Even with medical insurance, there will be many  uninsured medical related expenses. The family has established a fundraising campaign in his honor with the National Transplant Assistance Fund. (NTAF) NTAF is a non-profit organization that has been committed to helping transplant patients and their families for 25 years. All contributions adminstered by the organization are exclusively for transplant related expenses. Donations are tax deductible.

To make a donation, checks may be made payable to NTAF South Atlantic Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Fund in honor of Ted Thomas. Address is NTAF 150 N. Radnor Chester Road, Suite F-120, Radnor, PA 19087.

For credit card contributions call 800-642-8399 or visit the NTAF website at www.transplantfund.org.

For more information on the yard and bake sale or contributions, contact Kelly Z. Thomas at 864-392-1109, Janet T. Herd at 256-721-8766 or Ann Fagg at 338-9492.

Four wheeler clocked by radar at 65 mph

Williamston police officers were involved in a chase involving a speeding four wheeler, investigated an incident in which a man shot himself with a shotgun he was attempting to sell and the attempted breakin of a local church. These and other incidents including the following were investigated:

On Sept. 27, Ptl. D.E. Whaley was running radar on Greenville Drive when he clocked a yellow Honda four wheeler doing 65 miles an hour in a 35 mile an hour zone. He initiated a traffic stop but the rider didn’t stop. After several blocks, during which the rider drove in the wrong lane, barely avoiding a collision with an oncoming vehicle, Whaley used his PS system to verbally order the driver to pull over. After repeated efforts by Whaley the driver turned onto Tripp Rd. and pulled over. He was placed into custody immediately. Subsequently, Joel Payne, WM, 23, 6’6", 185 pounds, brn/brn of Piedmont, was arrested for speeding, failure to stop for blue light, and operating unsafe equipment. He was transported to WPD.

Sept. 27 – Ptl. D.E. Whaley responded to 34 Ridge Court where Eric Null reported the theft of two bicycles from his residence. Both were 26" Huffy Mountain bikes. One was pink and white, the other was green. The total loss was $400.

Sept. 28 – Ptl. D.E. Whaley responded to 29 Knight St. where Rebecca Luker reported that a dog had bitten her juvenile son on the back of the leg while he was playing football with a friend. The dog was chained at the time of the incident. The child was taken to the hospital by his mother and the wound was cleaned but no stitches were required. No charges were filed according to the police report.

Sept. 29 -  Sgt. M. D. Creamer and Ptl. R.S. Creamer stopped a white Chevy four door on Washington St. The driver was Lisa Moore and the passenger was Harold Dean, BM, 51, 5’10", 150 pounds. Moore’s insurance was expired and they were asked to exit the vehicle while it was searched. A search of Dean’s person discovered a metal pipe and crack cocaine. He was arrested and transported to WPD.

Sept. 30 – Reserve Officer C.M. Rogers was flagged down by a motorist who said he had seen two men throwing rocks at vehicles outside of town and had followed them into town to the Curb Market. One had walked away and when Rogers pursued him, he fled on foot and escaped. He was later identified as John Carlton, WM, 35, 5’7", 140 pounds, of Pelzer. The other subject, Randall Bruce, WM, 42, 6’3", 150 pounds, brn/blue, of Pelzer, was found to have glazed eyes, a strong smell of alcohol, and slurred speech. He was arrested for public disorderly conduct. The officer planned to seek a warrant for Carlton.

Sept. 30 – Sgt. M.D. Creamer responded to 620 N. Hamilton St. where Annette Evatt reported that Theodore Kinman and Crystal and Justin Pearson had come to the apartment with a shotgun for sale and Kinman had accidentally fired the gun and injured himself. He then left the scene despite his injuries. He was located by Ptl. R.S. Creamer and Reserve Officer Rogers nearby and refused medical treatment, despite pellets in his leg and face. He said he put the shotgun down at the corner of Greenville St. and West Caroline St. the gun could not be located.

Crystal and Justin Pearson were located a few minutes later and confirmed Kinman’s account of the incident. Crystal Pearson was subsequently arrested for two active warrants for her arrest. No one else was charged or arrested.

Oct. 1 – Ptl. D.E. Whaley responded to the Pentecostal Holiness Church at 24 Parker St. where David Gosnell reported that someone had damaged the church doors while trying to force entry. The doors held but damage was estimated at $500.

Oct. 1 – Sgt. T.A. Call investigated a complaint of theft at 44 McAlister St. Alvin Granados, of Greenville, reported that someone had entered the property by taking down the chain link fence and had stolen a 6 X 10 dump bed trailer valued at $4000.

Oct.2 – Ptl. M.W. Ritter was dispatched to 4 Glenwood Ave. in reference to a call about a white male knocking on the door and asking for money for gas. The officer observed the reported subject vehicle, a dark blue Ford Explorer, in the area and initiated a traffic stop. The driver, Jonathan Kelly, WM, 6’2", 220 pounds, blond/hazel, was found to be unsteady on his feet and to have a strong smell of alcohol on his person. He was charged with public disorderly conduct and transported to WPD for booking.

Oct. 2 – Ptl. D.E. Whaley observed a vehicle traveling on W. Main St. without taillights. He stopped the vehicle and found that the driver, Leandro Mejia, Hispanic male, 36, 5’1", 125 pounds, had no driver’s license. He was taken into custody and transported to WPD for booking.

Several cars taken by area thieves

Sheriff's report week of Oct. 8

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated a number of car thefts, break-ins and other incidents recently. Among incidents investigated:

BELTON 

Oct. 10 – B. Simpson was dispatched to 205 Hammond Rd. where William Wells reported that someone had stolen a single axle trailer and a riding mower from his property. He found both items at the Main Street Auto Salvage in Piedmont. He recovered the items, valued at $500.

Oct. 11 – R. Beddingfield responded to 4530 Highway 29 N. to the Jockey Lot where he and Lt. Hunter confiscated 151 counterfeit CDs and 270 counterfeit DVDs from Joseph Grant, BM, 23, from Pendleton. They also confiscated 156 counterfeit CDs and 230 DVDs from James Oris Williams, BM, 30, from Anderson.

Oct. 12 – R. Beddingfield responded to the Jockey Lot where William Teague, WM, 23, reported the theft of five speakers and two amplifiers from his 1994 Chevy Blazer. The loss was estimated at $1200.

Oct. 12 – J. M. Williams responded to the Jockey Lot where Debra Bryant reported the theft of her 1992 customized Ford van. The loss was estimated at $1200.

EASLEY

Oct. 1 – K.J. Winn was dispatched to 437 Hall Rd. where Deryl Hughes reported the theft of several firearms from his home. 

Oct. 3 – K.J. Winn was dispatched to 1917 Old Pendleton Hwy. where Loni Lucas reported that someone had stolen a number of items from her residence, as well as several junk vehicles. In addition to the vehicles, also stolen were a yellow Suzuki dirt bike, a Kawasaki 4 wheeler and other electronics. The junk vehicles included a 1966 Ford Fairlane, a 1971 Ford Torino, a 1980 Ford Bronco, 1988 Mazda pickup, a 1988 Jeep Cherokee, a 1997 Dodge Intrepid, and a 1993 Lexus. Total losses were estimated at more than $13,000.

Oct. 7 – K.J. Winn responded to 114 Green Ridge Dr. where Kendra Deavers reported that someone had broken into her vehicle and stolen two purses from the car, containing her wallet, credit cards, cell phone and other items. The loss was estimated at $280.

Oct. 10 – J.A. Garrett responded to 101 Charles Towne Dr. where Barry Green reported $500 stolen from a vehicle by two men whom he identified. A witness, Jacob Chandler verified the complaint. The license number of a van that allegedly left the scene, was checked and the van was found to be registered to one of the men.

Oct. 11 – J. M. Williams was dispatched to 412 Three Bridges Rd. where Melinda Williams, WF, 48, reported that her son, Nathan Neal, WM, 29, 6’, 150 pounds, brn/blue,  had become violent when she asked him to quit drinking and go to bed. He broke several items and pushed her against the door of the bathroom and punched the door behind her several times, grazing her cheek more than once. She withdrew her complaint and no charges were filed nor arrests made.

PELZER

Oct. 1 – R.D. Smith observed a 1995 Mercury Cougar with a headlight out. He stopped the vehicle and found that the driver, Michelle Lollis, WF, 22, 5’4", 115 pounds, blond/green, of Piedmont had an active warrant for DUS second offense. She was arrested and transported to ACDC.

Oct.1 – R. Beddingfield was dispatched to 120 Bellview Circle, Lot 5, where Evon Pettigrew, WF, 47, reported that her boyfriend, Randy Luker, WM, 46, had punched her and slammed her head into the wall during a fight. She was treated at the scene by Pelzer EMS and he was arrested and transported to ACDC.

Oct. 4 – J.C. Pearson responded to 11 Drake St., where June Atkins, WF, 42, 5’4", 165 pounds, said she and her boyfriend Bryan Hawkins, had been playing around when he bit her on the ear and she passed out. She was transported to AnMed ER for treatment of the cut.  Pearson later   found Bryan Hawkin, WM, 51, 5’10", 190 pounds, gray/blue staggering in the street with a strong odor of alcohol and a bloody lip. He told Pearson he had been drinking all night. He was arrested for public disorderly conduct.

Oct. 4 – P.D. Marter was dispatched to 788 Campbell Rd. where Chuck Bayne reported the theft of several articles from both his work truck and his personal vehicle. The items included a Blackberry cell phone, two gas cans, a GPS unit and a chain saw. Also stolen was a roll of stainless steel sheet. All but the Blackberry were recovered from a nearby yard where they had been abandoned.

Oct. 5 – C.M. Neal responded to the Bi-Lo where store employees reported that two white males, ages 20-25, had attempted to purchase items with counterfeit money. The bills were fives and twenties. They fled in a red Honda Prelude with a white female in it. The license plate number, was SC 362XFB, which is registered to Darlene Dempsey of Spartanburg.

Oct. 7 – J.J. Jacobs was dispatched to 8 Capers St. where Carol Smith told him that someone had broken into her mother’s home at that address and stolen a handgun and coin collection worth over seven hundred dollars.

Oct. 13 – J.J. Jacobs and J.T. Bowers responded to 1645 Easley Hwy. to the Hickory Point convenience store in response to a complaint of an intoxicated female in a vehicle. Upon arrival, they found Angela Vanluven, WF, 38, 5’2", 111 pounds, brn/brn, of Taylors, to be the car’s only occupant. They asked her to exit the vehicle and observed a small crystal rock to fall from her lap onto the ground as she did. They found an additional amount in the car. The substance tested out as methamphetamine. She was arrested and transported to ACDC.

Oct. 11 – J.J. Jacobs was dispatched to the Pelzer Point Shell station where a store employee reported that a white male had stolen two cases of beer, valued at $34, and fled in a white Kia Sedona SUV with SC tag # 173UWS. The tag came back to a 2002 Kia Sedona belonging to Michael Mock, at 1704 Firetower Rd. Jacobs and Deputy R. Bowers went to that address and spoke with Mock, WM, 28, 6’180", brn/brn, who admitted stealing the beer and returned one case of it. He told the deputies that Justin Smith, WM, 19, 5’5", 145 pounds, brn/brn, of 1004 McEnroe Circle in Piedmont, had the other case. The deputies traveled to that location, where Smith returned the remainder of the beer. Both were charged with shoplifting and placed on trespass notice from the convenience store.

PIEDMONT

Oct.1 -  Sgt. T.L. Chapman was dispatched to 905 Wren School Rd. where Brittney Martin reported that while she was walking to the football stadium she was threatened by John McNeill, WM, 42, 6’2", 250 pounds. Reports state McNeill had drawn his hand across her throat from side to side in a threatening motion and told her “Your day is coming.” Martin said she had given a sworn statement to family court about McNeill and her mother, who is in a relationship with him. This was one of several incidents, and McNeill has already been placed on trespass notice.

Oct. 4 – T.B. Dugan responded to Beardsley Rd. in reference to an unknown disturbance. He found Henry Wood, WM, 18, 5’6", 135 pounds, brn/brn along the roadside in an intoxicated condition. Wood was also wanted on two active warrants. He was arrested and transported to ACDC.

Oct. 4 – J. C. Pearson was dispatched to 515 Osteen Hill Rd. where Sue Knight reported that her niece, Pamela Amaro and her husband, Nelzon Amaro-Peralta had been in a fight and he had left. Pamela Amaro said she was afraid and tried to load a pistol while he was gone. She apparently tried to load .22 caliber ammunition into a .25 caliber gun. She told officers she tried several times to shoot her husband but the gun wouldn’t fire.  Meanwhile, Amaro-Peralta was stopped by Deputy T.B. Dugan nearby and arrested for public disorderly conduct.

Oct. 4 & 5 – Over the course of two days, Harold Snide, of 114 Palm Branch Way in Anderson reported three counterfeit checks which had come through his bank with his account number on them, but not his name. The name on the checks was Ronnie Sweet and they had been passed in several locations in the Piedmont and Pelzer areas.

A forty-one year old white male was struck in the left buttock by a bullet while attending a ball game at Hurricane Park next to Wren School. J.M. Williams responded and spoke with the victim, who has asked the ACSO not to release his name. State law allows the name of a victim to be withheld under certain circumstances. ACSO spokesperson Susann Griffin said that indications are that it was simply a stray bullet fired some distance away, since no one reported hearing a gunshot at the time the victim was struck. The caliber of the bullet, which was not removed, could not be determined by X-ray.

Oct. 9 – C.M. Neal  was dispatched to 102 Briar Ridge West, where Charlotte Bellue stated that her son, Curtis Bellue, WM, 26, and her daughter in law, Brandi Bellue, had been fighting and Brandi called her to come and get him. She stated he threw rocks at her car and damaged it and she wanted to press charges. The damage was estimated at $500.

Oct. 9 – P.D. Marter was dispatched to 1700 Elrod Rd. Lot 1, where Vercilla Sullivan, BF, 22, 5’1", 100 pounds, reported that she had been assaulted during an argument. She refused to sign a complaint and no arrest was made.

Oct. 10 – R.D. Smith responded to the Skate Place at 2130 River Rd., where owner Kyle Pitts complained that Tara Hendricks, WF, 31, 5’3", 138 pounds, brn/grn, of Piedmont, and two minor children had assaulted a 14 year old white female. Hendricks was found to be wanted on several active warrants by the GCSO. She was arrested and taken into custody by Greenville deputies. She was also charged with assault and battery for the attack on the minor child.

Oct.12 - J.J. Jacobs was dispatched to 102 Carson Creek Dr. where Iesha Caldwell reported that someone had entered her home and stolen a PlayStation, an X-Box and a pair of shoes with the total loss estimated at $450.

Oct. 12 – J.G. Williams received a telephone report from Kathy Respass, of Easley, reporting the theft of her black 1999 Honda Civic from the Shell Station at River Road and I-85. She put gas in and went inside to use the restroom. When she came out, the vehicle was gone.

WILLIAMSTON

Oct. 1 – B. Simpson responded to 101 Alliance Parkway where Josh Rhoades, of Schaefer Systems Company reported that an employee, Daniel Elrod, WM, 28, had been terminated and had failed to return a laptop and a cell phone belonging to the company. The loss was estimated at $3100.

Oct. 4 – K.D. Pigman responded to 825 Joe Black Rd. Lot 40, where Titus Schuch stated that someone set a rug and blanket on fire on his back deck. Schuch said he put the fire out before the residence itself caught fire.

Oct. 7 – J. M. Williams, in response to a request for assistance from the Gwinnett County, Georgia Sheriff’s Dept., went to 5101 Hwy. 29N where they took Dennis Kinsey, WM, 39, 5’9", 195 pounds, brn/brn, into custody for a felony violation of his probation. He was taken to ACDC where he was to be held for extradition.

Oct. 8 – B. Simpson responded to Am-Can Transport on Webb Road where Wiley Martin reported the theft of three box trailers, with a total loss of $16,500.

Oct. 10 – R. Beddingfield was dispatched to 202 Dacus Dr. where Chad Caldwell told him someone had broken into his home while he was out of town for a week. They stole a Remington 20 gauge pump shotgun, a .44 Ruger Super Blackhawk revolver, a Smith and Wesson .357 revolver, a Savage .308 rifle, a Sony Camera and $100 worth of coins, for an estimated loss of $2940.

Oct. 12 –J.J. Jacobs observed and stopped a 1998 Dodge Ram near Hwy. 29 after the driver turned left without using a signal. J. T. Bowers also arrived on the scene. Jacobs gave the driver Billy Farmer, WM, 37, 5’11", 170 pounds, brn/blue, of Cross Hill, SC, a warning and asked if he could search his vehicle. Farmer agreed. Jacobs allegedly found several grams of methamphetamine, some marijuana and drug paraphernalia and a handgun. Farmer was arrested and transported to ACDC.

Seems to Me . . .“It wouldn’t be fair”

By Stan Welch

Almost since the results of the June primaries became known, there has been talk that the outgoing Council would buy out the contract of county administrator Joey Preston before they left office.

Rumors of secret plots and maneuvering abounded. Scuttlebutt ran rampant; conspiracy theories exploded in number. Then, two things happened at the last County Council meeting that elevated the speculation to the level of reality in the minds of many.

First, a seemingly innocent scheduling conflict concerning the first regular Council meeting in November became a political game of chicken. The meeting, as scheduled at the first of the year, falls on Election Tuesday, November 4. Clearly, a collection of politicians cannot be expected to be at a meeting while election returns are coming in. So an effort was made to reschedule the meeting.

One Council member after another had a conflict with the various dates offered as alternatives. Mr. Waldrep finally suggested just canceling the meeting. Fat chance. The search for a different day persevered; prior commitments continued to hinder the efforts to reschedule. Waldrep repeated his suggestion; it was again rejected. I’ve never seen people work so hard to avoid a day off, especially this bunch.

Finally, a date was rammed down the minority’s throat, as Ms. Wilson’s prior commitment, or was it her attendance at the meeting, was deemed expendable by the majority.

The second shoe didn’t drop until much later in the evening, when an unannounced executive session was abruptly announced, and entered into. I say unannounced because the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act calls for such sessions to be included on the agenda of a given meeting, whenever it is known in advance that such a session will be called. Subsequent events would prove that such prior notice was clearly available.

The purpose, as required by law, was stated by the Chairman to be to “discuss obtaining legal counsel about a pending contractual claim against the county.” That purpose may be a bit understated, since Chairman Thompson had with him a list of three possibilities to be retained in whatever this contractual issue might be. The  presence of that list makes a pretty strong argument that prior notice of the executive session existed in abundance. The Council then returned to open session and promptly hired an attorney.

Oddly, Mr. Preston left the meeting when the executive session was called and did not return to Council chambers prior to adjournment. Perhaps he chooses to answer any questions under oath, always an interesting exercise.

I have felt for some time that buying out Mr. Preston’s contract might be money well spent. Considering some of the outlandish estimates put forward by Preston, for a full audit, which will apparently be sought by the new Council, buying three years of Preston’s contract might be a bargain. It would hardly cost more than one mill, which almost certainly would be saved under the first budget adopted without Mr. Preston’s input.

I say this despite the fact that Preston makes considerably more than the Governor of the state. His original employment contract was drawn up by Tom Martin, who is currently the county attorney, during one of the periods when Martin didn’t work for the county. It has improved steadily ever since. One would assume that the close business and personal relationship between Martin and Preston made it necessary to hire the lawyer recommended by Chairman Thompson. 

 Perhaps Martin could spend his spare time researching exactly where Chairman Thompson got the authority to assemble such a list. That authority seems starkly lacking in county ordinance, which gives the chairman the authority to set the agenda for meetings, along with the administrator, and to conduct those meetings. Period.

 But I digress. My point is that I have changed my mind about buying out Preston. It would be a disservice to him. He has spent years being accused of mismanagement, immoral behavior, misappropriation of funds, and improper interference in various elections. Allegations of outright fraud on his part have flown about for years. By his own claims, he has been embarrassed at his very own church by people asking him what actually happened at Cater’s Lake.

For years, the majority of the current Council has staunchly supported Preston, both in his administrative approach to running the county, as well as against the various allegations made concerning both his professional and personal conduct. Yet now, as his best chance for vindication approaches, this Council would rob him of that opportunity, by paying him to leave before the results of the audit that he has repeatedly claimed would clear him and his name, is even begun.

This is wrong; it is injustice at its rawest. Mr. Preston, a professional administrator in the public arena, should not have to seek his future employment with the stigma of being damaged goods as an added burden. He deserves to have his name and reputation cleared, and I hereby call on him to stand firm, and to demand his day in court. Again.

If the new Council chooses to place him on paid administrative leave, while the audit is conducted, I urge him not to take it as an affront, but as a paid vacation. Go to the beach, perhaps at Charleston, and enjoy the time off.

Seems to me, after all he’s done, he deserves that, and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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