News Archive

Front Page week of Oct. 22, 2008

News
(4308) Week of October 22, 2008

Williamston mayoral debate Thursday
No raise for Williamston employees
World Walk through Williamston
Boo in the Park this Saturday
Golf carts offer alternative transport
Piedmont parade Dec. 13
Grants help Piedmont District now, but may not be there in future
Woodmont to present Macbeth
Pelzer Historic Commission working to establish historic district
DHEC offers little to answer safety concerns with facility
Preston status remains in question, incentives for Lincoln Oil approved
Road proposed for closing used as emergency detour
Lib Pack running for Piedmont Commissioner
Frankie Garrett running for re-election to board
Gary Alexander running for Piedmont commission
Anderson County Sheriff’s crime report
Seems to Me . . .Anticipatory termination

Williamston mayoral debate Thursday

The Journal will sponsor a political debate this Thursday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Williamston Municipal Center auditorium. All three candidates running for the office of Mayor of Williamston are expected to attend.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy will be running for reelection to his third term as mayor. Presiding over two terms that included what was surely the most controversial and financially challenging periods for the town, he will try to convince voters he has the ability to continue to be a leader for the town.

Challenger Carthel “Coach” Crout, has been a Ward 1 Councilman for two years. Crout hopes to convince voters that his leadership skills and background as an educator and coach and with the military make him the right man for the job.

Challenger Otis Scott, currently the Ward 4 Councilmember, hopes voters agree that his experience on council and his efforts to secure funding for projects in the town make him the best candidate.

Each of the candidates will have the opportunity to explain his views on a number of topics of interest to voters of the town.

The debate is expected to last about an hour and a half and will include questions submitted to The Journal by the public. Journal news reporter Stan Welch will moderate.

The format of the debate will be similar to the recent Vice Presidential debate. There will be three rounds of questions. The first round will include seven questions. These questions will be the same for each candidate and each candidate will have two minutes to answer the question.

Each candidate will then have one minute to respond 

to  comments made by the other two candidates if he chooses.

(Time allowed for round one - 8 minutes per round x 7 questions for a total of 56 minutes)

During the second round, each candidate will be asked one question specifically and will have three minutes to answer. A follow up question may be asked by the moderator, with one minute allowed for response. (Approximately 15 minutes).

For the third round, each candidate will be allowed to ask the other two candidates one question with two minutes allowed to respond. (Approximately 15 minutes).

The debate will end with closing comments by each of the candidates. Each candidate will be allowed two minutes for a closing statement. (Approximately 6 minutes). Total debate time will be approximately 92 minutes

There will be no follow up comments or questions by the moderator. Citizens will not be allowed to ask questions or comment during the debate. The debate is open to the public.

No raise for Williamston employees

Williamston Town Council discussed personnel, bills and money during a meeting Monday which included five agenda items, a personnel and a legal item discussed in executive session. A three percent cost of living raise for employees also got no support from council.

The first two items on the agenda were postponed with discussion to be behind closed doors. The town attorney advised that the first agenda item dealing with repair and replacement of sewage lines could be “better explained in executive session.”

The second item, discussion of negotiations on a new auditor for the town, was also suggested to be discussed in executive session.

The first item to be addressed in public, a three percent cost of living raise was proposed for the second time by Mayor Phillip Clardy. Clardy presented information showing the effects of the proposed raise on the town’s budget. The motion died without further discussion after it failed to receive a second.

Council unanimously approved an employee manual with several amendments including adding Veterans Day as a paid holiday. Also in the discussion was comp time and nepotism.

There was considerable discussion about inclement weather days including who should report to work, how they are paid and who makes the decision. It was determined that the town’s new administrator will make the decision by 6 a.m. with input from department heads and will notify the media.

There was also some discussion about job descriptions.  Administrator Phyllis Lollis said, “It will take some time. I will have to get with the department heads. It will be six months to a year before I get that.”

Councilman Carthel Crout said the job descriptions are needed to determine how employees will be evaluated.

Council approved a $3000 quote for an engineering status report and will receive a report later.

Discussion on what to do with a large generator owned by the town, an issue that has been ongoing for several years, was not held in public. It was suggested the issue would be discussed in executive session. It was not made public what the town is planning to with the equipment.

A motion was made to pay for repairs to wiring for security cameras which was cut during installation of the new lights in Mineral Spring Park.

The cost for materials to repair the wiring was $500. The town administrator said that the company that installed the cameras charges $600 just to get a person come to the town to look at it.

The issue led to discussion about the town having a schematic for the wiring for the cameras which were installed last year, which they do not have.

Further discussion on the issue was tabled for executive session. It is not known what was decided on the issue.

Council did approve spending up to $150 from the hospitality tax fund for primer and paint for the new lights in Mineral Spring Park.

Mayor Clardy reported that with the recent approval of funding by the ACTC committee for the relocation of Pelzer Avenue, property owner Jim Simpson requested agreements be drawn up to reflect the transfer of property necessary for the project.

Councilman Marion Middleton requested to amend the agenda to allow discussion of purchasing a certificate of deposit with funds that not needed for current expenses.

Administrator Lollis stated that she has contacted three banks and that BBT has the highest interest at the time at 3.10 percent. Lollis suggested placing the funds in a 90 day CD.

Councilman Middleton made a motion to put money in the CD and Councilman David Harvell seconded. Mayor Clardy then proposed that the town administrator have discretion to place money from all funds except two, and leave at least two months operating expenses accessible in the town’s general fund.

No vote was taken and additional discussion on the topic was taken into executive session at the request of the administrator.

Mayor Clardy requested that the town be allowed to provide billing information reflecting actual water usage of Forest Hills subdivision customer to  JACABB Utilities.

Clardy said that providing the actual usage numbers to the company would allow JACABB billing to be more accurate.

After considerable discussion, the town attorney said he didn’t see a problem if the customers were notified that the information was being provided and didn’t object within 30 days.

Council unanimously approved a request to sell a 1986 Chevrolet dump truck at a mininum bid of $2500.  The vehicle needs some work including brakes. Councilman Middleton suggested that any money received from the sale be used for work on the the back up packer.

There was discussion on paying a bill for a trailer to be used to transport the town’s cannon. Clardy said Council already approved the funding and had indicated they wanted to be in on the vote. The check has already been written, he said.

Discussion on a geographic information system service was tabled for future discussion.

Council unanimously approved changing the town’s water billing format to meet postal specification. Clardy said the change will also save time and printer ink and include an envelope for the customer to return payment in.

Council then went into executive session stating they were to discuss one legal issue and one personnel. It is not known if any or all of the issues mentioned during open session were discussed in executive session or if any decisions were made behind closed doors.

Upon returning to session, Council unanimously approved allowing the town administrator to invest funds in excess of two months of operating expenses.

Council then approved placing $250,000 into a CD for up to six months.

According to Town Treasurer Michelle Starnes, the town had approximately $805,068 at the end of September in the general fund bank account. Those funds will be used for operating the town during October after which the town should see tax revenues begin to come in.

An average month’s expense is approximately $300,000, she said.

Following the meeting, Clardy, clearly frustrated with the failure of council to consider an employee raise said, “It is a tragedy they can spend 20 minutes discussing who gets inclement weather pay and I can’t get a second to discuss a cost of living raise.”

“Our employees endured the cuts and should benefit the plenty,” he said. “We’ve got money and are looking for a place to put it.”

Councilman Carthel Crout said Tuesday that he didn’t second the Mayor’s motion because the mayor procrastinated in providing information on the effects of a raise on the budget and Crout said he didn’t want to change the budget mid-year.

“We asked for the information four months ago. The raise was a budgeted item, but now it’s in the middle of the year,” he said.

Crout said he fully supports the town employees and expects they will see a raise next year.

“I think council will look at it in the next year’s budget,” Crout said. “We don’t know what kind of cuts we’re going to get from the state.”

World Walk through Williamston

Emmanuel (Manny) Ohonme, (second from left) founder of Samaritan’s Feet, a humanitarian organization providing relief to the feet of hurting children and poor people around the world, walked through Williamston on his 300 mile trek from Charlotte N.C. to Atlanta, GA. As part of the Samaritan’s Feet World Walk, an effort to raise $1 million and collect 300,000 shoes, Manny made stops at various places including Palmetto Elementary School in Williamston. (See story Page 10). After talking with students at PES, he continued on his way to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, joined by crew members and others he met along the way. For more information on Samaritan’s Feet, visit: www.samaritansfeet.org or call 704-341-1630.

Boo in the Park this Saturday

Boo in the Park will be held on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Williamston’s 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.

Members of the Greater Williamston Business Association will also provide candy. All area businsesses are invited to participate. 

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

Golf carts offer alternative transport

By Stan Welch

As gas prices rise and fall but remain well above $3.50 a gallon, more and more people are using alternative modes of transportation. One popular choice in several area towns is the electric golf cart.

Williamston Police Chief David Baker says that he and his officers are seeing more and more of the vehicles being used around town, and that’s fine with him as long as all of the pertinent laws and regulations are followed.

“A lot of people don’t understand that these carts are legally considered vehicles, and all traffic laws that apply to cars apply to them as well,” said Chief Baker, in an interview with The Journal this week. “That includes the fact that the driver must have a valid state driver’s license. Kids can’t drive the carts. The driver must obey all traffic signals and other laws.”

Since the carts don’t have turn signals or brake lights, the driver is required to use hand signals in their place. The carts cannot be driven at night, even if they have been outfitted with lights, according to state law. Laws governing driving under the influence and open containers apply to the golf cart and its occupants just as if it were a car.

The carts have to be licensed with the state, with the permit to be affixed to the cart. Anyone driving the cart must have a valid driver’s license and be listed as a driver on the permit. The carts must be insured and that insurance must be maintained. The penalties for violations of such laws are the same as for a regular motor vehicle. “In other words, driving that cart uninsured or with a suspended license could really cost someone,” said Baker.

“We treat them just like cars or trucks under the law. State law defines them as a vehicle and all state and local laws on vehicles apply to them. They can be very handy and we certainly understand the desire by our citizens to save gas. But they have to do so in a safe and legal manner,” said Baker.

One restriction on the carts is that they cannot travel on primary, or state roads. “A golf cart can cross Highway 20 in town, but it can’t use that road. The Highway 29 connector and Hamilton Street are also primary roads and can’t be used. Any road with a state number is prohibited. Also, the driver can’t travel more than two miles from his or her residence,” said Baker, who added that his officers aren’t making custodial arrests for violations. “We’re writing warnings and tickets, based on the individual case. We mainly just want people to realize what is required to be safe and legal on these carts. There are no restraint systems and you can get hurt pretty badly. There have been at least one fatality and one injury in the area in the last few months,” said Chief Baker.

Those wishing to register a golf cart can go to the SCDMV and obtain a permit. To do so you must provide proof of insurance, provide the driver’s license of anyone who will use the cart, and pay a fee of five dollars.

Piedmont parade Dec. 13

The Piedmont Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday, December 13th at 11 a.m. This year’s theme is “A Story Book Christmas”. 

The parade sponsor, the Bonnes Amies Club, would like to invite schools, clubs, businesses, dance groups, churches, beauty queens and individuals to participate this year. The entry fee is $10.00. Please contact Betty White @ 845-5543 for more information.

Grants help Piedmont District now, but may not be there in future

By Stan Welch

With the help of grants recently received by The Piedmont Public Service District, a new generator will soon be online and newly outfitted grass fire truck will soon be ready for service.

During their regular monthly meeting Monday, Commissioner Al McAbee offered a report on the fire department and the extensive training it has been conducting in recent weeks. Twenty fire fighters were just certified as first responders, following forty hours of training.

Fourteen Piedmont firefighters, as well as several others from neighboring departments, are enrolled in training for the firefighter II classification. Forty firefighters in all have attained that certification in the last few months.

Chief Tracy Wallace reported that the generator and related equipment that had been bought with a $104,000 FEMA grant, would be installed and in operation within two weeks.

The generator will fully power the fire station during power outages. Previously, the generator available would only power phones and minimal other systems. The new system will activate automatically within thirty seconds of a power outage.

A Ford 350 heavy duty truck has been purchased and is in Georgia being outfitted for use as a grass fire truck. The grant that helped obtain the truck was in the amount of $60,000. It should be available for duty within a week or so.

Wallace pointed out that serious budget problems in the state might very well jeopardize several competitive grants as well as the Streetscape project for the coming year. “The state has a $500 million shortfall to worry about, so a lot of this grant money is probably going to get very tight,” said Wallace.

The public service district has depended heavily on grants in recent years to help hold down taxes and water and sewer rates, an avenue that may be closing for the foreseeable future.

Chairman Ed Poore acknowledged such a possibility when he said that the need for a strategic plan for the next ten years is needed, and not just reacting to situations as they arise. “I don’t intend a pun, but we can’t just keep fighting fires when they happen. We need to plan more and better.”

On November 1, beginning at noon, FGS Hardware will put on their annual fundraising BBQ dinner for the fire department’s needy family program. The proceeds will be used to help provide Christmas goods for families in need.

 The next meeting of the Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners is on November 17.

Commissioner Bobby Stover continues to experience serious health issues. He has been forced to miss several meetings, as well as meetings of the Anderson County Transportation Committee, on which he also serves.

Stover was mentioned in the prayer offered before the meeting began. 

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. 

Pelzer Historic Commission working to establish historic district

By Beth Rostron

Several months ago we announced the possibility of a national historic district for the Pelzer area. It is with pleasure that we announce the continuation of those efforts by presenting to you the scheduled beginning date in the process of its establishment as October 28. The organizing of historic research and determining which properties we think should be listed as contributing or non contributing are some of the points that we will be addressing. This process is expected to continue over the next several months. The national historic district should include an estimated 600 historic buildings, structures, objects, and sites in the Pelzer area.

This project is our largest most substantial preservation project to date and may be one of the largest projects ever completed of its kind in the state of South Carolina. We, Community of Pelzer Historical Society, continue to fulfill our mission to preserve, restore, and publish when advisable Pelzer, South Carolina history. We are humbled by the privilege to answer our community’s call for recognition and positive growth. Before this project is wrapped up our group will most likely have come in contact with each and every one of you in the community. We are grateful to all those who have voiced their support, and we thank those who are presently lined up and ready to assist us in these efforts.

Are you or your group interested in helping us jointly in this project? Do you in the Pelzer community have historical information such as when your house was built, what changes have been made to it and when those changes occurred? Do you know who the previous owners were? Have you received contact from someone who says they may know or have access to history regarding your home or property? Do you know if someone considered prominent in the community lived in your home such as a doctor, or judge, police chief, mayor, or an important worker in the mills? Please contact us today! Due to the volume of inquiries we receive it may take some time for us to get back with you according to your questions. However, we will help you as much as possible in documenting the historic value of your home and property and providing for that information to be included in the records for the national historic district.

Some benefits of the National Register listed in information provided by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History include: Owners and some lesses of income-producing buildings listed in the National Register may be eligible for a federal income tax credit equal to 20% of their rehabilitation expenses under the Tax Reform Act of 1986. In South Carolina, tax payers who qualify for the 20% federal income tax credit may also qualify for a state income tax credit of 10% of their rehabilitation costs under the South Carolina Rehabilitation Incentives Act.

The Federal Internal Revenue Code also provides for federal income, estate, and gift tax deductions for charitable contributions of partial interests in a historic structure that is listed in the National Register or a “historically important land area.”

Under the South Carolina Historic Rehabilitation’s Incentives Act, owners who rehabilitate their historic residences that are listed in or individually listed in the National Register may be eligible to subtract 25% of the costs of many expensive repairs and renovations from their state income taxes. Organizations, institutions, and government entities that own National Register properties may be eligible for grants for preservation planning projects. If the property is within the jurisdiction of a Certified Local Government, these groups may also be eligible for grants for stabilization and weatherproofing. Certified Local Governments are designated by the National Park Service.

If you want to know whether or not we will be presenting your home or property as contributing or non contributing within the district or you have any further questions please contact us at the information provided below. We appreciate offered help and assistance and look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for your time and supportive efforts as we continue to build the future of Pelzer, South Carolina together.

Kind Regards, Beth Rostron, President

Community of Pelzer Historical Society

1 Reed St., Pelzer, SC 29669

For more information call 864-947-8817 or email brostroncphs@gmail.com

DHEC offers little to answer safety concerns with facility

Approximately 40 residents attended a meeting Monday night concerning the proposed ethanol facility between SC Highway 20 and Lewis Drive in the Cheddar Community. Representatives from DHEC, Lincoln Energy, Fagen Engineering, the Anderson County Fire Department and HAZMAT team were on hand to answer questions.

Many of the questions presented were concerning safety, closure of Lewis Drive and  effects on EMS response times, along with concerns of other roads being blocked at railway crossings during wait times to get the railway cars onto the facility’s property.

Donna Rowe, DHEC Community Liaison, stated that DHEC’s involvement is to issue a permit concerning air quality and that many of the other issues such as zoning, road closings, and construction codes would be handled on a local level.(See related story of Tuesday’s County Council meeting).

“My children play 150 to 200 feet from the railroad tracks where these tank cars may be parked. How far do they have to be from a family or residence?” asked Steven Chapman who said his property adjoins Lincoln Energy property, the proposed site.

“We don’t have authority over the site, just the facility itself,” said Elizabeth Basil, Bureau of Air Quality Director for DHEC.

Codes of Anderson County and the International Building Codes would actually be over that said Billy Gibson, Anderson County Fire Department Chief.

 “Who is going to protect my family, my children, my property? I don’t mean to be disrespectful to you, but this is my family,” Chapman said.

Gibson said there just aren’t that many codes dealing with this, but County Council would have to adopt all or part of the International Building Codes. “If the code doesn’t exist, we have nothing to enforce,” he said.

Joe Pack also said  he is concerned with safety pointing out that there are seven other road crossings in the area. He also said he doesn’t want Lewis Drive closed and asked about an underpass.

Gibson said EMS response times would definitely be affected depending on which crossings were blocked at the time, but added that with the countywide fire department more than one station is dispatched to a structure fire.

Jim Farish, Jr., Lincoln Energy Solutions CEO, said they plan to have between 80 to 100 rail tanker cars at a time. They will be broken in half and stored on the facility in two lengths about 2400 feet each, he explained.

Questions about leaks and safety of the tankers were addressed by Doug Edwards of  Fagen Engineering. He said that metal pans would run under the tracks on site to channel any leaks to a containment area which would then be analyzed and either discarded if it is storm water runoff or hauled away for disposal in the event of a spill.

Edwards said his firm has constructed several of these facilities.

Meanwhile, even though the permit concerning air quality hasn’t been issued by DHEC, site development is underway and railway ties are stacked along side the tracks for replacement of existing ties.

“The permit is still under review,” said Adam Myrick, DHEC Public Information Director. It would only be denied if information submitted showed it was not able to fall into standards required to operate the facility,” he said.

“People have to remember that we rely on the public to be our eyes and ears concerning these facilities. People in the public will be our monitoring process,” he said.

Preston status remains in question, incentives for Lincoln Oil approved

By Stan Welch

Anderson County Council continued to be divided into two distinct camps Tuesday night, as a solid five vote majority repeatedly imposed its will on the minority.

Councilman Bob Waldrep and Councilwoman Cindy Wilson were repeatedly defeated on issue after issue, perhaps none of which was more controversial than their effort to explore the impacts of a letter sent to Council two weeks ago, by an attorney hired by county administrator Joey Preston.

The letter, dated September 25, stated Preston’s view that comments attributed to Waldrep and through him to several incoming members of the Council, constituted an anticipatory repudiation of his employment contract.

Waldrep, who along with Wilson, did not receive a copy of the letter until two weeks after it was written, placed the issue of the letter and how to respond on the agenda. When that item came up, Councilman Greer immediately  called for a point of order, which was granted. He then moved to remove the item from the agenda, citing the confidentiality of the letter. That letter was obtained by the media recently and has been the subject of several news stories. (See related story in this issue of The Journal.)

Waldrep spoke to the matter, saying that it was not a personnel issue any longer, since an attorney was involved. The letter stated that Preston considered himself dismissed without cause. Waldrep said that the situation needed clarification and sought a vote to go into executive session to discuss the matter.

He and Ms. Wilson also questioned why they did not receive a copy of the letter until after the meeting at which an executive session was held by Council to retain an attorney, from a list of possibilities provided by Chairman Thompson.

Nevertheless, the majority voted to amend the agenda and then removed the item. Oddly, Councilwoman Floyd, despite the fact that the item had been removed from the agenda, then proceeded to make a motion to place the matter in the hands of the personnel committee, composed of Councilmen McAbee, Greer, and Ron Wilson, chairman. That motion was approved by a vote of 5-2.

Later in the meeting, Preston released a letter from his attorney to certain members of the media. The letter, obviously a response to a news story earlier in the day in which Waldrep questioned whether Preston’s first letter constituted a resignation, stated that Preston had in no way expressed his intent to resign, and restated his position that the comments made at a budget meeting earlier this year served as a constructive termination of Preston.

Preston’s contract contains a lucrative buyout clause in the event of his termination under certain circumstances. Satisfying that clause could exceed a half million dollars in cost, a fact Waldrep stressed.

“If this Council does not respond to this claim, it could be fatal to the taxpayers of this county. If we do not attempt to deal with this now, we are merely postponing the inevitable. We will be in a state of denial by failing to act.”

The vote count on the decision to approve a $10 million incentive package for Lincoln Oil Company varied, because Councilman McAbee, who has been involved with the project since the beginning, recused himself from the vote. Lincoln Oil is the company that is building an ethanol storage and blending facility adjacent to the tank farm near Belton.

A number of citizens spoke during a public hearing on the matter. Steven Chapman, a spokesman for the Cheddar residents who oppose both the incentive package and the proposed closure of Lewis Drive, spoke of safety concerns and reported that Lewis Dr. had been used to reroute traffic during a recent emergency at the tank farm that closed Hwy. 20 for a time.

Councilwoman Wilson stepped down from the dais and spoke at the public hearing, telling Council that she had contacted officials at several levels of government, including the EPA.

“The end result is that air quality permits are the only regulations in place concerning ethanol. We have no safeguards in place; we can offer the citizens no assurances that these tank cars, which will be parked within 200 feet of their homes, are safe.”

She read a list of articles and headlines from the internet demonstrating her position that the safety of the ethanol industry is overstated. 

Amy Plummer, representing the Greenville and Western Railroad, which is seeking to close the crossing on Lewis Dr. as part of its own renovations in the area of the tank farm, countered with statistics indicating that the rail industry has a good safety record, when compared to the trucking industry. She did concede, however, that evacuations might be necessary in the event of a derailment or a spill.

The final vote on the incentive package, which includes a fee in lieu of taxes agreement, a 20% infrastructure credit, and inclusion in a multi-county industrial park, was 4-2, with McAbee not voting.

The same vote prevailed on the issue of closing Lewis Drive which is adjacent to the ethanol facility site. Ms. Wilson’s efforts to once again table the issue until third reading approval  of the incentive package, were defeated by a vote of 4-2. The vote on the actual decision to allow the closing of the road was also 4-2.

Road proposed for closing used as emergency detour

By Stan Welch

Even as the battle over closing Lewis Drive in the Cheddar community rages, an incident occurred last week which brings the issue of public safety into sharp focus.

A little after 1 p.m. on Wednesday, October 13, the Cheddar Fire Department responded to the Belton tank farm, where a crew working on the property at the BP Terminal had ruptured a natural gas line.

A unit from the Belton Fire Department also responded, as did technicians from the Piedmont Natural Gas company, who quickly cut the flow of gas to the broken line.

During the forty five minute incident, traffic on Highway 20 was blocked and rerouted around the scene by using Lewis Drive, the road slated for closure by the Greenville & Western Railroad.

The road is slated for closing in order to allow the construction of a storage yard for tanker cars bringing ethanol into the Lincoln Energy company facility which is currently under construction.

The closure of Lewis Road has been controversial, with community representatives and representatives of the railroad facing off in a number of public arenas. A community meeting with DHEC was held Monday night, (see related story elsewhere in this issue). Tuesday night, at the County Council meeting, community spokesman Steven Chapman and GWRR representative Amy Plummer were both on the agenda to make presentations for their sides of the issue.

At issue is an increase in response times by first responders to the area of two to three minutes, according to Cheddar Fire Department figures. GWRR claims prior right of way for the railroad over the roadway, and says that a switching station is essential to shunt tank cars onto side rails for storage until they can be emptied.

Chapman, in an interview with The Journal, said, “This is a perfect example of what we have been talking about. Closing this road is going to cause problems. Luckily, this was a rather minor problem, and they got it fixed pretty fast. But next time, it could be ethanol.”

Lib Pack running for Piedmont Commissioner

By Stan Welch

Local businesswoman Lib Pack says she first became interested in the workings of local politics while her late husband, Tom Pack, was alive. “Tom was always very involved in things, always working for the community. I guess that’s how I got interested in it.”

After his death in 2001, she became very busy with running her restaurant, the Downtown Café. Recently, she has felt the urge to get involved herself. “I have been in Piedmont for 29 years and I care very much about its future. I would like to help get ready for that future.”

While she has definite ideas about the way the commission operates, she doesn’t plan to just start making changes for the sake of change. During a public comment portion of the agenda of the Commission meeting Monday night, she applauded the Commission and the Fire Department for the job they are doing. “I am not running just to stir things up, like you may have heard.”

She told The Journal, “I think the Commission is doing a good job. I think they have a good start on the sewer problems, but there is a lot of work still to be done on that.”

She supports the fire department and the firefighters, and pledges to work for the continued safety of the district’s people. Maintaining the department’s ISO rating, which influence the homeowners’ insurance rates residents pay, should be a key goal of the Commission, says Pack. Professional planning for the future is something she would like to see take place, as well as the continued development of the district’s recreational facilities.

Pack is a member of Piedmont Methodist Church and is the mother of one daughter, her son-in-law, and a granddaughter. She also serves on the advisory board of the Carolina First Bank in Piedmont.

Frankie Garrett running for re-election to board

By Stan Welch

Frankie Garrett, with four years experience on the Piedmont Public Service Commission, wants to remind voters that he has never voted for a tax increase. “I  will not vote for an increase  if I’m reelected,” said Garrett. “The Piedmont residents can’t afford more new taxes and this is my main concern as long as continuing good service on the behalf of the administration and firemen.”

Garrett, who has lived in Piedmont for sixty five of his seventy one years, is one of five candidates running for two available seats on the Commission. He points to the Commission’s success at obtaining more than $435,000 in grants since he was elected as the main reason for being able to hold taxes down. The Commission has also applied for a $200,000 grant to beautify downtown Piedmont, and has been promised funding for a veterans memorial.

He also opposes any increase in water or sewer rates despite the fact no such increase has occurred in more than ten years. “The sewer system is still a continuing problem,” said Garrett, “ But we’re using the resources available to us. I know it doesn’t pay for itself, but that’s no reason to raise rates. Western Carolina is a privately owned company. We should be getting more from them.”

Garrett is a member of the International Order of Oddfellows and Rebekahs and has served as Grandmaster of the organization. Semi-retired, he has owned Garrett’s Heating & Air Conditioning for 38 years. He has three grown children living in the Upstate area, and is a member of Oak Grove Baptist Church.

 

Gary Alexander running for Piedmont commission

By Stan Welch

Gary Alexander has a long time connection with the Piedmont Fire Department. He served as a fireman from 1968 to 1988 and was also a member of the Fire commission from 1983-1986.

He has seen many changes in the department since he and retired Chief Butch Nichols became the first two full time paid firemen the department had.

“When I started serving in 1968, we still had a 1948 Chevy fire truck. I remember when we got the first pumper we ever had. That was a big deal for sure. There’s been a lot of changes in equipment and technology since then, said Alexander, who retired from Michelin.

Alexander has no sweeping changes in mind, or any personal agenda for running. “I’m retired now and I just thought I would run if there was some way to help the community,  to improve it some,” he said. “I don’t have any ideas of making a lot of changes. I want to see that the firemen get taken care of, with benefits and such. It seems like all across the state, firemen and police officers and the military are taken for granted. These folks lay their lives on the line for us all the time.”

With two children and four grandchildren living in the area, he has ample reason for his interest in the community. Still, he plans to go slow. “I’m not the kind of fellow who promises a bunch of stuff. I need to get on there and see what’s going on. I count on the Lord to help me make decisions, and I expect that’s what I’ll do if I get elected.”

Anderson County Sheriff’s crime report

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated several incidents involving fights during the reporting period. Among incidents investigated were:

BELTON 

Oct. 16 – R.J. Payne responded to 101 Longshore Dr. where Ray Bell reported that James Canard, WM, 30, 5’11", 155 pounds, brn/brn had come to his house while drunk. Reports state Canard made several threats and finally pulled a knife on Bell. Bell took the knife away suffering a small cut to the hand. Payne tried to question Canard who was reportedly so drunk he could not be understood. He was arrested and transported to ACDC.

Oct. 19 – T.B. Dugan responded to 1615 Breazeale Rd. where Eddie Davidson reported the theft of a 6x12 white enclosed trailer with black letters reading G Five. The loss was estimated at $3000.

Oct. 19 – J.C. Pearson responded to 1210 Blue Ridge Ave. where Lee Coddington reported the theft of a yellow Huddgens 10 ton equipment trailer valued at $4000.

PIEDMONT

Oct. 16 – K.J. Winn responded to 413 Hurricane Creek Rd. where Lynn Long reported the theft of her 2005 Chrysler Minivan, valued at $5000.

Oct. 16 – R. Beddingfield responded to 120 Piedmont Rd. where Andy Walls, WM, 19, 5’8", 185 pounds, crashed his ultralight aircraft in the woods behind the residence he and his brother share. Andy Walls was transported to Greenville Memorial with non life threatening injuries, while the Powdersville Fire Department responded to the fire caused by the aircraft when it caught fire.

Oct. 16 – K.J. Winn responded to 110 Shadow Moss Dr. where subjects Tiffany Barrett, WF, 36, 5’2", 310 pounds, blond/green and Harleston Barrett, WM. 64, 5’6", 160 pounds, were arrested on warrants from Pickens County.

Oct. 16 – W.B. Simpson was dispatched to 110 Frontage Rd. where Kevin Kennedy, of The Cashion Company, reported a former employee had stolen a company credit card while working for the company earlier this year. He had subsequently used it to purchase more than $13,000 worth of merchandise.

Oct. 18 – M.J. McClatchy and C. Whitfield responded to 203 Country Manor Rd. where Brandon Lee, WM, 29, 5’5", 180 pounds reported that his uncle, Robert Lee, WM, 48, 5’6", 160 pounds, and his cousin Steven Lee, WM, 5’7", 180 pounds, had attacked him as a result of an argument about the behavior of Steven’s wife. Brandon said he and Steven were fighting when Steven began cutting him with a knife. He also said Robert began pistol whipping him with a black .380pistol. The other two said Brandon “flipped out” and went after Steven for no reason. Brandon had several lacerations and bruising on his face and chest. Steven had five puncture wounds to his torso and a cut to his eye. He was transported to the hospital. Brandon was cuffed and read his Miranda rights. Several knives and the gun were located and placed into evidence.

Oct. 18 – J.R. Finley responded to 206 Ramblewood Rd. where Robert Elliott reported his estranged wife, Andrea Elliott, WF, 45, 5’3", 110 pounds, blonde/hazel had come to the residence and attempted to break in. She was found in the garage and said she had come by to retrieve some belongings. While Finley was present, she struck her husband in the face with a closed fist. She was told she was under arrest and began resisting. She was tasered several times and placed under arrest.

Oct. 19 – M.D. Campbell responded to the D & J Food Mart where Judy Kleder reported that a black male, 25-30 years old, 6’1", with a medium build, wearing black pants, long sleeve black shirt, and a black ski mask, had come in and robbed her at gunpoint of an undisclosed amount of cash.

WILLIAMSTON

Oct. 16 – R. Beddingfield was dispatched to Alliance Parkway to the Alltel facility, where David Hannon reported that $2000 worth of copper wire had been stolen, and $500 worth of damage had been done to the fence at the scene.

Oct. 19 – Sgt. T.L. Chapman responded to the Williamston Police Dept. in reference to an assault that took place the day before. Bernal Inocencia reported that a Hispanic female had assaulted her at a party.

Seems to Me . . .Anticipatory termination

By Stan Welch

Anderson County and its politics continue to display an ability to dazzle that few, if any counties, can match. Cook County in Illinois, home of the Chicago Democratic machine of Richard Daly fame, and Dade County, in Miami, come to mind as the only rivals for chicanery and sheer audacity.

The latest evidence of the legitimacy of Anderson County’s claim? A letter from county administrator Joey Preston’s newest attorney does the name Imelda Marcos and the word shoes come to mind?) claiming that the incoming Council, which has yet to be elected, much less installed, intends to prevent him from performing his duties.

That’s right, Mr. Preston has sued for so many things he claims have happened to him that he has run out of stuff to sue for. So, undaunted, he has begun suing for things that might happen to him next year.

In this letter, Mr. Preston’s newest lawyer (does the phrase Carter’s little liver pills come to mind?) expresses Mr. Preston’s concerns that he will be unable to continue his valiant effort to perform his duties, due to the obstacles that the new Council is allegedly planning to put in his way.

Now, the only statement that has been made concerning the intentions of some of the new members of Council is that they intend to pursue a full and thorough audit of the administration’s conduct of the County’s business. That intention was stated individually by several candidates while running in the Republican primary back in June.

After three candidates who favor an audit won their primaries, and unseated three of Preston’s remarkably pliant majority, those candidates, who face no Democratic opposition in November, had the nerve to continue to call for such an audit, as if they intended to keep their campaign promises. One can understand Preston’s shock at such action.

At a budget workshop following the June 10 primary, Councilman Bob Waldrep, who seems to have taken some of the incoming Council members under his wing, stated that they had asked him to tell Council that such an audit was still in the works and that Preston and financial analyst Gina Humphreys would probably be placed on paid leave while the audit took place. It’s the business world’s equivalent of running the foxes out of the henhouse so the eggs can be counted. It’s also the equivalent of a paid vacation in most people’s minds.

Not to Preston’s. Apparently bewildered and aghast at such a show of integrity, and horrified at the idea of such unwashed and untrained public officials actually overseeing the County’s business, Preston felt compelled to save us from ourselves.

He sees the intentions of the Council to seek a full accounting of his administration’s performance as an attack on his authority under home rule. He has already launched an injunctive effort to stop the madness, by filing for an injunction several weeks ago to keep Wilson and Waldrep from plundering around in *gasp* public offices and asking questions.

Of course, Preston and various of his other attorneys have spent ten years and hundreds of thousands of dollars generating their own interpretation of those powers. Preston and several cooperative councils have also spent a lot of time and considerable energy in expanding and solidifying his powers by passing various ordinances and resolutions that have wildly expanded any reasonable view of those powers as described by state law.

One of the most cooperative Councils Preston has enjoyed is the remnants and the lame ducks of the current Council.

Clearly, he sees that changing in just a little over two months. So he has foisted upon the public this audacious and farcical claim that the as yet elected Council is going to make his lot unbearable, and is seeking legal and financial protection for himself. He is obviously angling for a buyout, since it seems likely the new council would be quite willing to take its chances in court, in order to avoid a buyout.

Personally, it seems to me that Preston, according to his letter, considers himself no longer employed by Anderson County. He calls the Council’s intentions, which hardly meet the legal standard for the term, an anticipatory breach of contract. The letter says he considers himself terminated without cause, while others read the letter as a formal resignation.

Either way, he should immediately surrender the keys to his office, to the Denali provided him by the county, as well as surrendering all the county credit cards he might have in his possession. The $5000 membership to the Chiquola Club should also be forfeited. Those memberships are currently being given away.

As to a buyout of his contract, he should receive not one cent, at least until it is determined just who breached that contract. The full audit would be a good start in determining that, but other inquiries might be needed also.

In the meantime, the Council needs to take action to determine just who is the county administrator. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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