News Archive

(4306) Week of Oct. 25, 2006

News

2006 Election preview

Election -
Williamston Council Ward 1

Wright running for Ward One seat

School Board

Alexander makes education a priority
Atkins running for Area 5 School Board
Landreth seeking School Board seat
Tucker seeking school board seat

Piedmont Public Service

Stover running for PPSD commissioner

County/State

Rawls running for Council District 26

Seems to Me . . .Senator “Billy”

News

SCDOT explains recent sign pickup
Schools locked down as deputies chase burglar
West Pelzer losing money as rate increases postponed
Bridge honors Senator O’Dell
Forum has little input from area
Mustang cheerleaders take first place
West Pelzer teacher serving on NEA Board
Boo in the Park offers fall festivities

Seems to Me . . .Senator “Billy”

 

 

SCDOT explains recent sign pickup

By Stan Welch

Recent efforts by South Carolina Department of Transportation crews to remove political campaign signs are not rooted in some sinister political scheme, according to the SCDOT official overseeing the pickup of the signs.

Bobby Patterson, SCDOT residential maintenance engineer in Anderson County, wants to assure the public that no candidate is being singled out; nor is there any intent behind the cleanup other than to maintain the state’s rights of way along the roadways.

“We’ve been getting a lot of calls the last few days, so I want to make sure folks understand. Our policy is that no advertising signs whatsoever are allowed in the right of way. We have relaxed that policy in regard to political signs, but they cannot be in areas that the Dept. or various municipalities mow, and they cannot cause distance of sight problems. If they do, we will pick them up”, said Patterson recently.

“If the signs are placed towards the rear of the right of the way, and don’t cause a problem, they will be left there. But the SCDOT has both the authority and the responsibility to maintain its rights of way. That can be to the far side of a ditch or the top of a graded slope. It varies on practically every road,” he added.

An employee of the Anderson County development standards office explained that Chapter 38, section 253 of the county’s sign ordinance exempts political signs from any requirement for a permit, but specifies that they are to be placed on private property. “Technically, they shouldn’t be on the roadside, but we do not pick up political signs,” said the employee.

Patterson acknowledges that Williamston has received a lot of attention due to the fact that DOT crews have been working in the area more in recent weeks. Just last week, more than a dozen signs were removed from the Mineral Spring Park just across from Town Hall on Main Street. Many have since been replaced, further back from the road.

Says Patterson, “We don’t want our employees to have to climb on and off their mowers to remove these signs. And we don’t want them to run over them and tear them up. It’s a simple maintenance issue, and not a political one. I promise.”

Candidates who have lost signs can retrieve them at the SCDOT maintenance yard just a mile north of I-85 on Hwy. 178 at exit 21. “We keep them for 30-45 days before we get rid of them,” said Patterson.

Schools locked down as deputies chase burglar

By Stan Welch

An interrupted burglary escalated Tuesday afternoon as the subject fired shots at Anderson County Sheriff’s deputies who responded to the 911 call placed by the owners of the house. Within a few hours, a manhunt resulted in the arrest of Michael Keith Gilliam, who is also wanted by Greenville County authorities.

According to a press release issued late Tuesday afternoon by ACSO Public Information Officer Susann Griffin, the 911 call was received by Sheriff’s dispatchers at 12:01 p.m.

Deputies responded to the scene at 605 Highway 17 in the rural Piedmont area at approximately 12:16 P.M.

According to the incident report, Ms. Christina Wilkie returned to the residence unexpectedly and entered to find a white male standing in the living room, holding a bag of various items. When she asked what he was doing there, he fled through a side door. Ms. Wilkie then called 911 to report the intrusion.

Gilliam, using a .32 Smith & Wesson stolen from the residence, fired shots at the responding officers and ran into a nearby wooded area, an area that is also low and swampy.

No officers were hit by Gilliam’s shots, and he would later be taken into custody unharmed. He was taken to the ACSO offices for questioning.

News of his arrest was confirmed by Griffith at approximately 3 P.M.

In the meantime, however, law enforcement personnel, along with K-9 units and the ACSO helicopter, swarmed over the rural residential area just a couple of miles from the Wren Schools.

Officers armed with assault rifles and shotguns spread out along Highway 17, peering into the woods in hopes of sighting the subject. Two helicopters from local television stations also hovered in the area, remaining well above the action and out of the Sheriff’s helicopter’s way.

By the end of the three hour manhunt, every available unit in the county, including ACE, narcotics officers, detectives, and State Troopers were involved.

Wren Elementary School, Wren Middle School, and Wren High School were all placed on lockdown as a precaution. The schools let out at their regular time, with a methodical dismissal. Additional law enforcement personnel were on hand, according to School District One Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler.

Spearman Elementary was not  in full lockdown, but had extra security measures in place, Dr. Fowler said.

All of the schools have a crisis response plan for situations like this, he said. Bus drivers were also notified of the situation.

Shortly after word of the arrest, Sheriff David Crenshaw passed by the media staging area at the intersection of Highways 8 and 81, and told reporters and Griffith that while the subject was not talking to law enforcement, he strongly resembled that Gilliam fellow that Greenville County has been looking for.”

The subject did turn out to be Gilliam, who has a record of previous arrests, and was wanted on other warrants when he was arrested Tuesday.

Crenshaw also confirmed the use of dogs for tracking but added that they were of limited use in the wet, cold wooded area where Gilliam was found.

In a rambling statement made while being transported from the ACSO offices to a squad car for transport to the Detention center, Gilliam said that he loved his children. “When nobody helps a man, won’t give him no money or food stamps or anything, and he gets hungry enough, he’ll do something,” added Gilliam.

Sergeant Strickland of the Anderson County Detention Center confirmed that Gilliam is being held without bond. He is charged with first degree burglary and petit larceny by Anderson County, and is on a hold for Greenville County. Additional charges for firing at the officers are also likely.

Griffith added that additional charges of grand larceny were made in reference to a stolen van Gilliam was allegedly driving at the time of Tuesday’s incident.

She also confirmed that Gilliam was arrested in Anderson County in August of 2005, and again in June of this year.

The June arrest was for DUS, second offense, no vehicle license tag, an open container, and failure to stop for a blue light. She added that there is also an outstanding warrant for an armed robbery which occurred in September of this year in Anderson County against Gilliam.

That warrant had not been served as of Wednesday morning. “It will be,” said Griffith. “You can be sure of that.”

West Pelzer losing money as rate increases postponed

By Stan Welch

The refusal by the West Pelzer town Council to consider a budget that incorporates a water and sewer increase is simply another attempt by the Council to make her look bad, says Mayor Peggy Paxton.

“We are just spinning our wheels at the public’s expense,” said Paxton, in an interview following the Town Council meeting which saw her motion to adopt the budget incorporating the rate hike die for the lack of a second.

“There’s no communication between me and the four members of Council,” said the Mayor. “They have had a budget to review since May, but they wait until tonight to ask questions. Just give me some credit. Communicate with me so we don’t all look like idiots in front of everybody. They do these things to try and make me look bad, and it hurts the Town and its citizens. It’s just so stupid.”

Councilwoman Maida Kelly had challenged Paxton during the meeting saying that the budget should have been finished in May. Paxton actually presented a provisional budget for review, due to the fact that the anticipated increase in the Town’s wholesale water rate had not been finalized. That information was needed to finish the budget.

According to Mayor Paxton, as well as the town attorney, the Town is currently using twenty five hundred dollars a month from its general fund to offset previous rate increases that were not passed on to the individual customers. Paxton expressed frustration that the council members continue to refer to catching up on arrears, or late payments of the individual water bills. “They don’t seem to understand that, first of all, there will always be some arrears on the bills; secondly, if we collected one hundred per cent of the bills on time, it will have nothing to do with the fact that we are losing twenty-five hundred dollars a month, just because of the rate increase.”

Adding to the frustration over the failure to even bring the budget to the floor for a vote was the fact that Council members, most notably long time veteran of the Council Joe Turner, offered several cuts that they indicated would help offset the rate increase. For example, Turner suggested cutting Christmas bonuses for employees, cutting the budgeted amount for the publication of various meetings, as required by law, cutting the training and travel budget in half, and cutting the contingency expense fund altogether.

He also wanted to cut the $5500 miscellaneous income item from the budget, despite the Mayor’s explanations that it was an income item, and not an expense. The Town’s auditors require that income be categorized, as to source, since that often determines what various revenues can be used for. Paxton explained that the miscellaneous income item was simply there to allow the town to receive and account for income from an unexpected source, such as a bequest or donation from a citizen. Turner seemed concerned that the money was in a separate account, a concern Paxton answered by stating that the money was in the general fund.

The Council, after some discussion, voted to leave vacant the fourth police officer position in the department. Currently Chief Bernard Wilson and one other officer are providing police protection for the Town. Wilson had hoped to hire two men to fill out the rotation, which is currently unable to provide around the clock protection. Council, however, voted 4-1 to fill only one of the vacancies, a decision to which Paxton clearly objected.

“We can do whatever you want, but be sure and tell your constituents that we don’t have 24 hour police coverage. We have the Chief and one officer right now, and it is a struggle. Now, we’re only going to hire one more officer instead of two. You know, we have to do something with the tax money we raise. We can either put it into police protection or something else,” said Paxton.

Councilman Marshall King disagreed, saying, “We don’t have to spend the extra money. We can put it into a slush fund and use it for something else.”

Town attorney Carey Murphy corrected the Councilman on his use of the term slush fund, saying that the money could be saved for another use, but only for a year. “Money comes in and money comes out. You might put the extra aside for a specific use, but not for two or three years down the road.”

Paxton suggested that if the officer were not hired, the savings, which she conceded would be considerable, be used to reduce taxes for the Town’s citizens.”

Turner also suggested that the Town could cut the third man from the water department payroll, again to Paxton’s chagrin. “They do more than just read meters. Since we’ve been putting in all the new water lines, they’re fixing broken sewer lines all the time. We can cut whatever you want, but you may be cutting services at some point.”

Turner argued that catching up the arrears and addressing the infiltration and inflow problems with the Town’s sewer lines should bring the water and sewer costs down.

After all the wrangling, Paxton made a motion to accept the budget as presented. No one seconded. Turner again expressed his opposition to a water rate increase. He asked if the budget could be passed without the increase and then reviewed in two months. Paxton replied that the increase is needed to pay the current water bills for the Town. Turner said the bills were being paid, to which Paxton replied that they were being paid with money from the general fund.

Paxton restated the motion, saying, “I won’t be responsible for the Town’s water bills not being paid. Give me something so I can do something. This is ridiculous.” The motion received no second, even from Councilman Pete Davis, who earlier had recommended an additional dollar increase to begin building a contingency fund for the water and sewer department. Paxton responded to Councilman King’s request to see three months worth of records from the water and sewer department by saying, “I have tried and tried to reach you and you won’t return my calls so I can get you these records. All of you have avoided me. I have had no cooperation and no communication, and you know it.”

The motion died, leaving the Town with no current operating budget. They continue to operate on last year’s budget, a decision that left all the proposed cuts and hiring freezes unapproved.

Paxton, clearly upset with the Council’s decision, said that the town would be unable to have the Fall Festival, for the first time in five years, a festival held in cooperation with Pelzer. “Should we have a Christmas parade?”, asked the Mayor. “Or should we cancel that too?” Council voted to have the Christmas parade at 3 P.M. on December 2nd.

In other business, the Town approved a sealed bid auction of one of the police cars, which doesn’t run. Peter Van Hook was appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals and Debra LeCroy was appointed as a member of the Planning Commission.

Bridge honors Senator O’Dell

A new bridge spanning the Saluda River was officially named the William H. “Billy” O’Dell Bridge during a special dedication ceremony held Sunday, Oct. 22 in Ware Shoals.

The program was held at the new Burton Center for Disabilities and Special Needs facility located on Saluda Avenue near the bridge.

Attending were numerous political figures and representatives of South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT).

Ware Shoals Mayor George Rush, III welcomed guests and acted as Master of Ceremonies.

Invocation was given by the Reverend Dr. Marcus R. Bishop, Pastor of Mount Gallagher Baptist Church.

Colors were presented by the Citadel Flag Corps. A Citadel bagpiper was also present.

The national anthem was sung by Edris Louise Robinson, Director of Day Programs at the Burton Center.

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by O’Dell’s grandchildren, Hannah Harrison, Will O’Dell and Lara Beth O’Dell.

The Greenwood Area Martin  Luther King, Jr. Mass Choir under the direction of Reverend Myron Hill presented a musical medley.

Speakers included SCDOT commissioner Marion P. Carnell, SCDOT Executive Director Elizabeth S. Mabry, District 9 Senator Daniel Byron Verdin, III, Senator John W. Drummond and Janice McCorn,  representative of Third District, U. S. House Representative Gresham Barrett.

Representative Michael Allen Pitts read the resolution honoring O’Dell by naming the bridge for him.

Members of the O’Dell family unveiled the sign.

Senator O’Dell has represented his district since 1989.

Forum has little input from area

Less than 10 people showed up at the Imagine Anderson forum held at Palmetto High School Monday to offer input on the future of Anderson County. Facilitator Lynn Cherry said that the small number of participants still provided important information that will be included in the analysis and final reports which will be presented in February.

Starting with a look at resources and opportunity and how to make Anderson County a better place to live, those attending came up with 13 areas of importance including maintaining beauty and controlling growth, sustainable farming and economic development, support for small and existing businesses, infrastructure, recreation and entertainment, friendly place to live and good school systems, providing EMS fire and police, landuse and air quality, and revitalization for mill villages.

When asked to focus on the top two,  participants chose controlling growth and attracting industry as priorities for the area.

The group was taken through a discussion process which defined controlling growth as placing infrastructure where you want growth and providing green spaces, or more trees and grass. Also discussed was countywide zoning, comprehensive plan and enforcement of subdivision rules and regulations. Maintaining sewer lines and infrastructure was also important.

In attracting industry,  the group focused on providing infrastructure, higher education and a trained workforce and incentives being offered for industry and their impact.

Cherry said that other forums had brought up additional issues such as drugs and teen pregnancy and social services. The forums are being held to provide information for a 20 year vision plan for the county.

With broad based citizen input, project leaders hope to develop a vision for the ideal Anderson, as well as a plan for achieving goals identified during the imagining process.

Citizens can share their ideas electronically by accessing the initiative web site at www.imagineanderson.com.. The final plan is expected to be announced at a community celebration in February, officials said.

Mustang cheerleaders take first place

The Palmetto High School Competition Cheerleaders have placed first in five straight competitions and will be going for their sixth win at the Debbie Rogers Classic in Columbia this Saturday.

The Mustangs are the defending State AA champions, under coach Sheri Alexander.

They have competed at Liberty, Hillcrest, Woodruff, Daniel and Dorman since competition began in September, placing first in each.

They will compete against 13 other teams at the Debbie Rogers Cheer Classic which begins at 12 noon at the Colonial Center.

 The Varsity Mustangs are scheduled to compete at 1:06 p.m. and will be followed by the JV Competition Squad at 1:15 p.m.

The JV squad is also having a great season, placing second in each of their four competitions. They will finish their season this Saturday in Columbia.

The Varsity competition squad will compete in the Region Competition at Mauldin High School on Nov. 4 and will host the Upperstate qualifying competition at Palmetto High School at 6 p.m. on November 18.

Coach Alexander said that the strong showing by the Varsity squad is because of strong leadership being provided by 13 seniors.

“I think that having 13 seniors and the senior leadership is why they have done so well,” Alexander said. “The girls have been together a long, long time.”

She also acknowledged the one male on the squad as being a good motivator. “He has a great attitude and they  work real good together,” she said.

West Pelzer teacher serving on NEA Board

Joyce R. Wilson, a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Anderson School District One’s West Pelzer Elementary School, is excited to begin work as a newly elected member of the National Education Association Board of Directors.

“I am proud of my chosen career, and NEA has afforded me the opportunity to express this on the local, state and national levels,” says Wilson. “The children of South Carolina deserve a qualified professional in their classrooms, so I am proud to be a part of the NEA mission to ensure great public schools for every child.” Wilson, whose three-year term began September 1, was elected to fill the post by her colleagues at The South Carolina Education Association. The 34-year veteran of public education recently participated in her first meeting of the 188-member NEA Board, one of the top decision-making bodies for the 3.2 million-member professional and labor organization.

“Joyce brings a wealth of practical experience to the Association’s mission that every child has the basic right to attend and succeed in a great public school,” says NEA President Reg Weaver. “She is committed to the fight for quality public education and is a tremendous asset to our Board.” The NEA Board is composed of elementary and secondary teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty and staff, school administrators, retired educators and students studying to become teachers.

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Boo in the Park offers fall festivities

Boo in the park, a fun filled fall festival event, will be held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, October 28 in Mineral Spring Park.

There will be treats, entertainment, and other special activities for kids 12 and under including a Halloween costume contest, coordinator Dianne Lollis said.

Lollis is coordinating several groups and organizations that will participate in the event.

Area businesses and churches will have displays and be giving out candy.

Strong Communities will also be participating with fun games, face painting and other activities for smaller children and parents.

Entertainment for children is being planned for the amphitheater stage, including a dance group, a professional clown and a costume contest, Lollis said.

Entertainment will begin at 6 p.m followed by Buttons the Clown at 7 p.m. and the costume contest at 8 p.m.

The Williamston Fire Department is planning to offer “spook rides” on the 1936 antique fire truck which will leave the park, and take riders on a spooky tour by the nearby Williamston Cemetery and back.

Businesses making candy donations include Modern Supply, Community Bank, Ragsdale Home & Garden, Ragsdale’s Decks, Suntrust Bank and First Citizens. 

Giving out candy will be First Citizens employees, The Willliamston Red Hat Honey Do’s, New Prospect Church (games and candy), Hillcrest Church, and the Williamston Area Historic Commission (WAHC).

Kempie Shepard of Grace Methodist Church will be telling ghost stories in the park. Members of the  WAHC will decorate the scout hut and give out candy. Tabernacle Baptist from Pelzer will offer hot Apple Cider.

Palmetto High Students will help decorate the park, offer several games, and help with Spook Rides being offered by the Williamston Fire Department .

WAHC member Johnnie Bell will be at the Cemetery and will tell about the Horse Head legend. John Vaughn and Butler Guard reenactor members will be in the cemetery dressed as Confederate Soldiers and will have scenes and performances based on some of the soldiers buried there. 

Tickets will be sold at the cemetery or you can ride on the fire truck for this event.

Any business, church or other organization that would like to participate is asked to contact Lollis at 864-847-5743.

The entire community is invited.

Stover running for PPSD commissioner

Bob Stover, 57, of 122 Dill Dr. Piedmont, is one of four candidates running for three seats on the Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners.

Stover, a Woodmont graduate, is married to Kay Huff and they have three children and 7 grandchildren.

He is a member of Washington Baptist Church in Ware Place.

He was in the USMC for six years and is serving his second term on the Anderson County Transportation Committee, a position nominated by Rep. Dan Cooper and approved by the legislative delegation including Sen. Billy O’Dell and Rep. Michael Thompson.

He is the owner of Piedmont Lawncare and Maintenance.

Stover said his number one priority for running for the seat is to offer better benefits and pay and more support for the firefighters of the PPSD.

He said he wants to address a rumor which has surfaced recently stating that if elected, he plans to do away with firemen insurance and family benefits.

“I would never vote to take away benefits promised when they were hired including insurance benefits for firemen, their families or retired firemen,” Stover said.

Stover did say that if elected, he wants to do to away with pay for the commissioners. He said he will make a motion every month to do just that.

“I will not take one penny,” he said. “I will give that pay back to the firemen.” Stover said he will give his salary back to the district to go to the lowest paid firemen.

He said until recently he didn’t know commissioners were paid and that he heard a commissioner state “that they do a good job on a limited budget,” “yet gave themselves a raise,” he said.

“I think it should be an honor and a privilege to serve on the board.”

Stover said he would like to take the monthly pay of $100 and two yearly bonuses of $150 each, a total   of $7500, and use it for additional funding for firemen salaries or equipment.

“I feel very strongly that it should be going to the firemen or for equipment,” he said. “If elected I will make motions every month to do away with commissioners pay and give it to the firemen.”

“They are the ones putting their lives on the line every day and every hour they are subject to be in harms way,” Stover said. “They are a special breed.”

Stover said that he would also like to restructure the fire department  when the current chief retires. Current Chief and Administrator Butch Nichols has stated that he plans to retire soon due to medical reasons, Stover said.

His plan for restructuring is to do away with the assistant chief position and add a third captains position to the current two.

He said he would recommend taking the assistant chief salary and use it to hire one new fireman and use the rest for pay raises for firemen or for equipment.

He also would like to see the chief and administrator position split into two separate positions.

He said the department has very well trained personnel and is fortunate to have Tracy Wallace (current assistant chief) and Craig Lawless (assistant administrator). With the restructuring he would recommend Wallace be moved to the chief’s position and Lawless to administrator.

He supports stronger business fundamentals at the fire department and keeping expenses under tighter control.

“If you paint a house or put in air condition or windows, do you have them tell you the price the next day?” Stover said. “This is the way sewer repairs are being done.”

Stover also said he will go by a strict code of ethics, stating he has a problem with commissioners who use the office for monetary gain for family members.

He also said that there are a lot of issues with sewer which need addressing.

“There are some hard decisions to make and somebody must step up to the plate and make them,” Stover said.

 

Alexander makes education a priority

Fred Alexander has served on the Anderson School District One Board of Trustees for 16 years, 14 of those as Chairman.

Alexander said he has always put needs of the children first during his time serving on the board.

He points to results the District continues to see in testing which consistently place the school among the top in the state among the 85 districts. At the same time, District One is spending less money per child compared to all but one, he said.

According to Alexander, the District has been rated excellent for the last three years and PACT test score for grades 3 through 8 rate the District 1, 2, and 6th of the 86 Districts.

He also said that hiring qualified and caring employees is another reason the district continues to rank near the top.

Alexander said decisions the board has made support education and have resulted in saving the taxpayers money.

“The board has been good stewards of taxpayers money,” he said.

In addition to lower spending per student, Board members have continued to provide the best possible facilities while not overspending on them, he said.

Alexander said that growth in the district will be one of the biggest issues facing the district in the future and the board will have to look toward providing  more classrooms.

Alexander, 70, is a lifelong resident of the area. He and his wife Wanda  have three children and 7 grandchildren. All but one have attended District One schools.

He served in the Air Force and is retired from the Postal Service.

He currently works parttime for the Thomas McAfee funeral home in Greenville. He is also a realtor with the Hudson Agency in Piedmont.

Wright running for Ward One seat

Willie Wright of 23 School St., Williamston, will be the only candidate for Williamston Town Council Ward 1 whose name will be on the ballot. There are two write-in candidates also running for the seat.

Wright, 68, has been a resident of Williamston most of his life and is a member of Bethel United Methodist Church.

He is married to Minister Frances Wright and they have four children, Anita, Willie, Jr., Harvey and Rodney. They have four grandchildren, Loren, Dustin, Tiffani and Will III.

He attended District One schools including Caroline Elementary and Caroline High School, graduating salutatorian of his class in 1955.

He attended and completed undergraduate work at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. with a B. A. Degree in Secondary Education.

Upon returning to South Carolina, Wright continued his education becoming certified in Elementary Education and working toward a master’s degree through Furman, the University of South Carolina and South Carolina State.

He has held positions as editor of the school newspaper at Southern University, columnist with The Journal for six years, served as a member of the Williamston Cemetery Committee, and Vice President of the Williamston Action Community Club (WACC).

He was a teacher in public elementary and high schools for 14 years, is a retiree of Roadway Express, Inc after 27 years in the administrative department,

He has served as chairman of the Administrative Board at Bethel UMC, Superintendent of Sunday School, Chairman of the Trustee Board, Parish Relations Committee, and is a certified lay speaker and secretary of Men United of Williamston.

He is currently employed in special education at Palmetto Middle School.

“I feel that I would be a great asset to the Wiliamston Town Council because I’ve lived in this town most of my life and I feel I know what the citizens need and expect. I am anxious to serve and let the citizens know that I would be a representive of and for the citizens of this town and help to make this town a better place in which to live and work.”

Wright said his number one issue is “getting the town out of financial debt and back on par with the normality of living.”

Wright’s platform includes getting a much needed grocery store in Williamston, providing more activities for youth, providing a cleaner and healthier environment and adding cement sidewalks where needed.

He wants to look at ways of reducing the amount citizens have to pay on their water bills, not spending more money than is taken in and will listen to concerned citizens and do something about those concerns.

Wright said he will find a way of providing all citizens with a physical map of the wards in which they live, “eliminating this so called imaginary line separating the four wards.”

He will look at providing more safety measures in  and around the public schools such as traffic lights and at rehiring laid off city workers in the sanitation and street departments.

“I need your support and vote to go about the business of the town and start making progress in the town,” Wright said. “I will work for the town to not go backward, but to go forward.”

Atkins running for Area 5 School Board

Doug Atkins, of 118 Shorebrook Dr., Willliamston is running for Area 5 School Trustee in Anderson District One.

Atkins, 55, has 34 years of experience in education as a teacher, coach and administrator. He worked 19 years in District One as an assistant principal at Palmetto Middle, assistant principal at Palmetto High and served as principal at Palmetto High for 9 years.

He worked two years in the District One office as the school to work coordinator retiring in 2001.

Prior to that he worked 9 years in District 2. He is presently in school administration and teaching biology at the Crossroad Success Academy in Stephens County, Ga. wherer he was been employeed for six years.

Atkins has a Doctorate in Education Leadership from S. C. State and a Master of Education (Special) from Clemson.

He is a member of Whitefield Baptist Church and is married to the former Rita Taylor.

Atkins said helping provide a bright future through education for young people is his reason for running for the District One trustee position.

“As an educator, I know the value of a quality education. My goal is to help bring a bright and better future for the young people of this area. I share that commitment to young people and that is why I am running for the position of trustee.”

Atkins said he will be eager to hear views from the public of what they think is best for Anderson District One.

If elected, he plans to continue to emphasize academic excellence in all programs; provide a competitive athletic program and an enriching extra-curricula program including fine arts.

He said he will work with other board members, the superintendent and administration to meet the diversified needs of all students and to promote economic development in the community by providing an educated workforce.

He also plans to foster a strong, binding, cooperative relationship with the businesses in the area, ensure a system of accountablility in the schools, protect the local taxpayer and to serve the community.

“I will work hard to see that our young people receive a quality education without frivolous spending,” he said.

Landreth seeking School Board seat

By Stan Welch

Philip Landreth has always been involved in the education of his children. The Director of Machining and Technical Services at Clemson University, Landreth is very active in the PTSO, currently serving as president of the Wren organization. He has served in various PTSO offices as his children, twin boys who are juniors at Wren High, and an eighth grade daughter at Wren Middle School, have risen through the school system.

It is that sense of involvement, more than any particular agenda, that  led him to seek a seat on the District One School board. “I think the District does a pretty good job, spending their resources wisely and achieving good results. But I have always been involved and this seems a natural thing for me,” said Landreth in an interview earlier this week.

He is concerned about the tax swap that he says is bound to affect the schools. “I’m pretty curious to see how that whole deal is going to work. I also think we have to address the explosive growth in the area,” said Landreth.\

School vouchers, designed to let parents send their children to private schools with the support of tax dollars, also raises questions for Landreth. “It’s obviously going to hurt the public schools, and I don’t think it’s going to help those who use them as much as they think. For one thing, the children still have to be accepted by the schools. Then, many of the private schools will simply increase their costs to take advantage of the available money.”

He also feels that the education lottery has been less successful than expected. “A fact that many people ignore is that a lot of freshmen, who can’t maintain the necessary grades during their first semester lose that funding, and it’s a heck of  a sticker shock when they do.”

Landreth, a Carolina High School alumni, as well as a1984 graduate of Clemson University, has served as both President and Vice President of the Clemson Staff Senate, which represents the University’s 25 or so employees. He has also served on other boards and panels.

“I think I have some needed skills to offer in terms of working with people and helping them work together,” said Landreth.

Tucker seeking school board seat

By Stan Welch

Wendy O. Tucker has two main reasons for seeking a seat on the District One School Board. Neither of them are her three children, whom she plans to home school, at least for a few years.

Her concerns are both fiscal and philosophical. “I want to continue the District’s record of efficiency and getting the most bang for the education dollar. They have traditionally achieved good test scores and overall performance while spending their money wisely,” said Tucker in a recent interview.

Her second concern is that Christian values continue to have a place in the area’s schools. “I recently heard a news story about a girl in Pennsylvania who wasn’t allowed to read her Bible at school, during her break time. This is a free country, and things like that concern me very deeply.”

Tucker, whose wish to home school her four year old and two year old for the first few years might seem odd in light of her experience as a teacher, says the desire is a somewhat selfish one. “I’ve been a teacher for six years, teaching seventh grade math. But now, with the two children and a new baby at home, I’m staying at home with them right now. I just really want to teach my own children very much. But I certainly am not turning my back on the public schools in any way, shape, or form.”

Tucker grew up in Greenville and moved to the Powdersville area five years ago, after marrying Samuel Thompson “Tom” Tucker, a Powdersville native and Wren High school graduate. She received her undergraduate degree in education from Bob Jones University, and has suspended work on her Master’s degree in special education to care for her children.

“While I think the District does a very good job, I believe that a fresh perspective could be helpful, and some new ideas could be productive,” said Tucker.

She urges parents and voters to visit her website, tuckerforeducation.com. “I’d love to hear from the parents of students in the District, with your comments or concerns.”

Rawls running for Council District 26

Greenville County businessman Dan J. Rawls is running for the District 26 seat on Greenville County Council.

A Greenville County native, Rawls has lived the past 40 years in the Berea and Piedmont areas of District 26. A local homebuilder, he is President and CEO of Dan Rawls Inc.

 A conservative, Rawls presently works with local government as a member of the Greenville County Planning Commission, Greenville County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Steering Committee and the Greenville County Tree Committee, and said he will use his leadership and advocacy experience to be an effective, energetic worker for District 26 on Greenville County Council.

 “Greenville County is a very special place to me, and I am very concerned about our future,” Rawls said. “The residents of District 26 are facing new challenges with dramatic growth leading to congestion, insufficient infrastructure, over-development and an increasing tax burden,” Rawls said.

“Solving these issues requires careful planning, honest cooperation, and ultimately, some tough decisions. My background and experience gives me the unique perspective and qualifications to help find those solutions.”

Rawls said he wants to make sure sheriff, EMS and fire departments are fully equipped and funded.

He also encourages citizen involvement and plans to hold town hall style meetings and newsletter to encourage communication.

He plans to work on economic development by actively working to strengthen the business sector and job market in Greenville County.”

County Council needs to support and encourage the growth of existing manufacturing companies and recruit businesses responsibily. We do not need to give away the county and our communities,” he said. He supports responsible use of existing program in courting new business.

Rawls has served in numerous leadership positions for civic and community organizations including Chair of the House Operations Committee for Ronald McDonald House, Past President of the Piedmont Lions Club, Chairman of the Finance, Personnel and Building Committees for Rehoboth Baptist Church, and a member of the National Historic Preservation Society.

Additionally, Rawls has held local, state and national positions of leadership with homebuilders associations, chaired the Board for SC State Housing Finance and Development Authority, and serves on the Advisory Committee for Fannie Mae. He was Lion of the Year in 1999, and named Home Builder of the Year by the Home Builders Association of Greenville in 1997 and again in 2002. In 2005, Rawls was inducted into the South Carolina Housing Hall of Fame.

Seems to Me . . .Senator “Billy”

By Stan Welch

Since coming here almost two years ago, I have met a lot of people, and a great many politicians. I’ve met both United States Senators DeMint and Graham. I’ve met U. S. Representative Gresham Barrett, and a whole lot of state, county and municipal officials.

I’ve enjoyed meeting Representatives Dan Cooper, Michael Thompson, and Sen. Kevin Bryant. I’ve met the Governor and a slew of candidates.

But my favorite politician, the one I always enjoy covering or talking with, is Senator Billy O’Dell. Senator Billy, as I often hear him called, is a small man with a large presence, and that combination is always telling. The fact that one hears him called by a combination of his title and his first name is also revealing.

In the South, that odd combination is usually applied to one who maintains the dignity and status of his office while presenting a sense of approachability and connection to his constituents. Certainly that is true of Senator O’Dell. He seems equally at home with his political colleagues, and with the least exalted of his constituents. He makes the art of politicking seem simple, but we all know it ain’t.

He has been an economic engine in his Fourth District, helping not only to obtain state funding and grants for many infrastructure projects in his area, but also by building a successful business; so successful that the addition of fifty jobs has recently been announced.

He has served on the Ware Shoals School Board, and on the Abbeville Economic Development Board. Evidence of his political leadership and its benefits for the area abounds.

The Senator and I share the experience of having attended and graduated from The Citadel. From past conversations with the Senator, I get the idea that he was eager to leave home and see what else the world had to offer. It seems to be a wanderlust that was fairly short-lived. He returned to the family farm while still a young man, and has plied his considerable political and business skills there ever since.

We also share a less than complete enthusiasm for the Citadel experience, as well as a stubborn pride in having stuck it out. That’s a big reason I respect and like the Senator so much. I know what it took to get through four years of a program he hadn’t fully bought into. Even more remarkable is the fact that he recognized the value of a sometimes less than pleasant experience. He so values his Citadel education, and its potential importance to future graduates, that he serves on The Citadel’s Board of Visitors.

It’s difficult to imagine that he has done so without helping to focus, while not nullifying, the tougher aspects of the system he and I both chafed under.

He has seen fundamental changes in the school. For example, when the Senator graduated, The Citadel was still an all white school. The first black Citadel graduate,  Joseph Shine III, was in my company, and was two years ahead of me. Senator O’Dell has also seen the admission of women into the Corps of Cadets. He has watched and worked to help as one of the state’s most traditional symbols has undergone bedrock changes, and he has helped the school do so while retaining its reputation as a trainer of soldiers and a builder of character.

He  also served as another great symbol of the state was lowered from the State House Dome and placed at the Confederate Soldier’s Monument. Again, he was there as reasoned, if emotional, debate achieved a compromise that all  of South Carolina’s citizens can live with.

Senator O’Dell is not a physically large man, but he certainly has a presence  which projects well. To see him standing, dapper in his suit and stealing a couple puffs of a big cigar while attending some function or the other, is to realize that this person is wherever he is for a reason. He does not just occupy space; he fills it.

He frequently fills it with laughter, whether at a joke told by a colleague or a remembrance of constituent from some time long ago. He is quick to laugh with others, while being able to laugh at himself. That is an ability that is as rare as it is befitting a man who is clearly comfortable with himself and his place in the world.

This past weekend, on October 22, Elizabeth S. Mabry, executive director, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, along with what was an impressive array of politicians and dignitaries, was on hand to dedicate the William H. O’Dell bridge in Ware Shoals. A highlight of the weekend was the appearance of  The Citadel Color Guard and a Citadel bagpiper who played in the Senator’s honor. The fact that he appeared just after the Senator had told someone that when he died, he wanted a bagpiper at his service was just an accident of timing.

The event and the size of the audience served as a clear  sign of respect for a man and his achievements that all can understand. Considering all that Senator O’Dell has done to serve people of all colors and circumstances, across his District and the State, it seems to me that the naming of  a bridge is the perfect recognition for all he has done, and a harbinger of what is yet to come.

 

 

 

 

 

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