News Archive

(4405) Week of Nov. 2, 2005

Week of Nov. 2, 2005

No delinquent tax sale for property in Williamston
Arts Center Warehouse readies for preview, benefit auction
Zoning, developmemnt issues raised at County Council
Property purchase price more than reported
Pelzer voters to decide on mayor
Grant awarded for new turnout gear
Watch sale to benefit victims
Officers investigate thefts
Thieves target Jockey Lot vendors
Museum to host Mistletoe Market

No property sale for delinquent tax

The Town of Williamston has decided not to conduct a delinquent tax sale this year for properties with outstanding amounts owed for 2004.

According to town clerk and treasurer Michelle Starnes, the town has 144 properties with overdue balances totaling approximately $8,000.

Muncipal and county governments are allowed to sell property bu auction to satisfy a delinquent tax bill. The auction is usually held in October or early November, just prior to the new tax notices being sent out.

If sold, the original owner of the property has one year to pay the delinquent tax. If not paid, the highest bidder at the auction sale becomes the rightful owner of the property.

The tax sale is not being conducted this year because the town missed the deadline for posting notices, Starnes said. Properties must be posted by the town prior to a sale. The properties with delinquent taxes due are then advertised in the local newspaper. The notice must be published three times (weeks) for the sale to be legal.

Starnes said usually only one or two persons show up for a delinquent tax sale. Most of the amounts due are small amounts though Starnes said there are “a few big ones.” Items on the list usually include boats, lots, and houses and other properties.

Last year six properties were sold. The owners of four of the properties eventually paid the outstanding balances due resulting in only two properties sold at the sale being redeemed, she said.

There is no requirement that a tax sale be held, it is only an option for governments to collect outstanding tax amounts. According to Starnes, the town attorney advised that the town “is not required to have one.”

Property owners with outstanding balances will see their tax bill increase if the amount is not paid and may face having the property sold next year should the town decide to conduct a sale.

Arts Center Warehouse readies for preview, benefit auction

The new Anderson County Arts Center Warehouse project is nearing completion, just in time for the annual benefit auction and the holidays.

The renovation of the 100 year old P&N warehouse building into an Arts Center showcase, has been a five year project.

Located behind the Arts Center and next to the farmer’s market in downtown Anderson, the warehouse building was purchased by the city approximately five years ago. It had to be stablilized and weatherized, Arts Center Director Kimberly Spears said.

The building had big holes and engineers said there were about six months to do something with the building before it would become unusable.

When completed, it will contain  a gallery, classrooms, a kitchen and office space. A private business could locate in the building and a restaurant is planned, according to Spears.

The building also features an atrium and a board room located in the center of the building.

“We wanted to keep the ambiance,” she said. The building was a freight depot on the front and a passenger depot in the rear, Spears said. “Alot of local businesses had warehouses here.”

The original warehouse bay areas of the 33,000 sq. ft. building will remain, Spears said. Bars from outside the original building will be used for the gates which will block access to the individual bay areas which are connected and accessed through brick archways that run through the structure.

Anything from the original building that could be saved and reused was, including old outside lights.

“Anderson was one of the first to have electricity,” Spears adds.

Wiring and lights that were saved from the building were original, electricians told her.

Original elevator equipment made by Park Manufacturers of Charlotte N. C.  that operated in the building will remain but will not be working.

A new elevator will make the building accessible to everyone. In addition to ground access, the building has ramps, making it handicapped accessible.

According to Spears, “It has the most access in Anderson. We wanted all barriers gone with this building which is for everybody,” she said.

Spears said the project is the first public, private partnership to be formed with help from the city and county.

The City of Anderson purchased the property which is being leased by the County for use as the Arts Center Warehouse.

“It is a textbook case for a public, private partnership,” Spears said. “We are real proud of that.”

The warehouse building has twelve 2,500 sq. ft. bays with six on each floor.

One of the bays will house an artisan’s gallery which is now being housed in the Sullivan shops.

“We help facilitate artists to the next level,” Spears said, “which is selling to the public. We are promoting the artists.”

The two story warehouse building will feature an interior stairway with special artwork designed by Anderson County school children.

Pendleton artist John Acorn took 100s of drawings from area pre-schoolers which were then traced onto the wooden landings and outlined with special ordered “trailer nails.”

Each of the nail holes had to be pre-drilled. Acorn estimates that he has contributed about three months to the project.

Twelve artisits have applied to display their art in the warehouse. “We want to represent local artisits and to promote local artists,” Spears said.

Three classrooms in the center will be used for after school programs, summer art camps, senior projects and evening arts classes for adults, according to Spears. There will also be artists guilds and drawing classes. The classrooms feature special cabinets and colors. There are also storage rooms.

“It will be a great asset for all of Anderson,” Spears said.

There is a multipurpose events room that can house themed birthday parties with arts related activities, It will also be used for workshops, luncheons, and it features a staging area.

A pottery showroom will feature an electric kiln.

Leaving the building, visitors can enjoy an outside area located between the warehouse center and the farmers market which will be a sculpture garden.

The “green space” will be used for concerts and as a place for people to gather, according to Spears. The center will focus on visual arts and will partner with other organizations for performances, she said.

Spears said the building will be open by the holidays and she hopes to feature a holiday walk. A dedication is being planned for the end of November.

On November 5, at 6 p.m., there will be a benefit auction at the Arts Center Warehouse.

The fundraiser auction will be held in the newly renovated building offering patrons of the arts an opportunity to see the building and to purchase original artwork, unique items and entertainment and restaurant packages.

Eighty artists have contributed original artwork of all mediums.

Spears said the project is coming about because of the leaders in the community.

“We have a great relationship with some progressive thinkers in this community,” Spears said about the project. That kind of leadership on our board and in thsi community has made this happen.”

Spears said that diversity and getting people involved in the arts are priorities. “Everybody should feel comfortable coming here,” she said.

The Arts Center building which is on the national historic register, will be linked to the new Warehouse complex by the Farmers Market pavillion. The pavillion will be located between the giraffe pattern walls of the building next to the Arts Center on Main Street.

The area will be pedestrian friendly with an outdoor sculpture area for outdoor events, Spears said. “The pavillion links it all together,” Spears said. “I’m glad it came together.”

The Arts Center Warehouse grand opening will be at 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by nationally known performance painter Brian Olsen performing at 6:45. A silent auction will continue until 9 p.m. and a live auction conducted by Meares Auctions, Inc. begins at 10 p.m.

Proceeds from the auction support the annual budget for programs including Artist in Education, art school, art camp and gallery exhibit programs offered through the Anderson County  Arts Center.

Area restaurants will cater the event.

“It is an exciting event every year and we hope to rise to the challenge of making the evening a memorable one” said Spears.

Dr. Robert G.  Austin is president of the Anderson County Arts Center Board of Directors.

Zoning, developmemnt issues raised at County Council

By Stan Welch

Anderson County Council enjoyed a relatively quiet and productive meeting Tuesday night, despite the presence of several public hearings on the agenda. Several of those came and went without any public participation, leaving more time for the one rezoning request that drew a crowd.

Council heard from several citizens as well as the developer of a proposed planned unit development to be located on Edgebrook Drive, near the proposed route of the East West connector slated for a 2007 construction start. The plans had called for a total of 88 single family patio homes and 80 townhouses built in units of four.

The developer’s agent, Tony Cirelli spoke first, announcing that his client would agree to reduce the number of townhouses by 20%, reducing the number to 64.That offer was challenged later by a Ms. Becky Paris, who cited an earlier plan by Cirelli’s client which indicated that 8 acres of open space would be maintained at the 34 acre site, while the 88 patio homes would occupy an additional 22 acres. “How can you put 64 townhouses on the remaining four acres of land?” asked Paris.

Several residents, regardless of their position on the proposed zoning change, from R20 to PD, were unhappy with what they considered an attempt to intimidate them. Apparently, signs appeared in the area stating that if the proposed change failed, the alternative would be the construction of a double wide mobile home development, instead of the $200,000 – $245,000 homes slated.

One speaker asked if that were possible, and received no answer, until the change was before the Council, and Councilman Michael Thompson asked planning director Jeff Ricketson if it was indeed possible. He was told that it was. The proposed change was finally given first reading approval by a vote of 5-1-1, with District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson abstaining and Councilman Fred Tolly opposing.

One issue raised during the vote came up again later in the evening. Councilman Thompson, citing the County’s financial inability to maintain its current road system, asked if the developer would be willing to withdraw his intention to dedicate the roads to the county system and maintain them himself. Cirelli said that the developer would be willing to do that.

Councilwoman Wilson explained her abstention by saying that the issues of safe ingress and egress, as well as the project’s proposed density, concerned her. Later in the meeting, the Councilwoman asked that the county staff be instructed, via the administrator, to study the possibility of requiring plans for future developments to include acceleration and deceleration lanes to provide for safer access to those areas.

Councilwoman Gracie Floyd agreed, and asked if Wilson would like to make her suggestion a motion instead. Wilson said she would in deed, and the motion was not only made and seconded, but receive unanimous approval. Although Floyd used what she called the “nasty word, impact fee”,

Wilson disagreed later, while speaking to The Journal. “This really isn’t an impact fee idea. Impact fees are much broader in their reach and based on a number of factors in the community. This is simply a study to determine the best way to approach this problem. In many states, including Georgia, plans are required to include this kind of planning. The costs are simply passed on to those who buy homes.

Council also had a lengthy discussion of a proposed inducement agreement to be offered to S&T Enterprises, which proposes to build a hotel and convention facility . The agreement would provide infrastructure credits to allow the facility to build an access road. Several Council members had questions, including Councilwoman Wilson, who said that giving the developer one third of his taxes back seemed a bit extreme. Councilman Thompson asked how many jobs would be created, and was told that between 50-55 fulltime jobs and approximately 25 part time jobs would result.

Councilman Greer expressed his concern that the proposal indicated that as much as $5 million or as little as $2 million would be spent on the convention facility. He sought assurance that at least the $2 million figure was firm. Economic Development Director John Lummus assured him it was. Charles Wyatt, Director of the Civic Center, was on hand to say that there was room for both facilities in Anderson, saying, “I think we can live together. There will be some projects we have to turn down that they can handle, and vice versa.”

Council approved the resolution by a vote of 4-2, with Wilson and Greer opposing. Councilman Bill McAbee  recused himself on the advice of counsel, due to a prior business relationship with the company.

Property purchase price more than reported

By Stan Welch

Earlier reports of the cost of a tract of land along the Saluda River, purchased earlier this year by Anderson County, appear to have been significantly lower than the actual price.

A copy of the sale contract, provided to The Journal by District Seven County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, indicates that the actual price of the approximately 48 acres was in fact $609,120, and not the previously reported $527,620.

The lower figure appeared on the deed documents on file with the Anderson County Register of Deeds. The contract figures were obtained, without incident or delay, by Wilson just days after County Administrator Joey Preston was deposed in a case concerning a battle between Preston and Wilson over her right to see financial records of the County. That case is currently before the courts; Wilson and her attorneys have filed for a writ of mandamus to force the issue, but Judge Nicholson has so far declined to rule on the petition.

In addition to the higher sales price, it appears that an additional 10% “consulting fee”, as well as “reasonable out of pocket costs of the consultant” was paid to Carithers Real Estate Inc., a company with a history of real estate transactions with the County. The language of the contract, if accurate, would raise the cost of the land to at least $669,000+.

The transaction, which was closed on April 13 of this year, has raised questions and eyebrows on the Council, as well as across the county. While it appears that the procurement of an approximate 4 acre site next to the Powdersville Water Department was included in a general obligation bond approved by Council last October, this most recent purchase caught the majority of Council off guard, when it became public knowledge. Five of the Council members expressed no knowledge of any vote approving that purchase. Two members, Councilmen Dees and Greer, declined to comment when asked about the purchase and their vote on it.

Preston has contended that the GO bond did in fact authorize him to purchase the second tract. In fact, at the press conference called to announce the plans for the site, he said that it would have been wrong not to purchase the land and assure that children would have a place to play in the future.

The four acres, 1.8 of which was donated by the Powdersville Water Department in exchange for future infrastructure considerations, cost $425,000. It is slated for construction of a new 18,000 square foot facility that will include a library and several government offices. According to news reports published at the time of the GO bond’s approval, a recycling center was also to be built on that site, at an approximate cost of $200,000.

Plans revealed for the river site in recent weeks indicate that the recycling center will instead be the first thing built at that site. Plans, according to information provided by the County planning staff, also call for soccer and softball fields, as well as a park and nature trail at the Saluda River site.

Representatives of both the Wren Youth Association and the TriCounty Soccer Club appeared at a recent press conference to announce their participation in the proposed new facility. The press conference was called to announce that the park would be named after former state representative M. J. “Dolly” Cooper, father of incumbent Rep. Dan Cooper, whose obtaining of a $250,000 PRT grant was instrumental in the purchase being possible.

Also credited with helping make the project possible was Forrest Thomas, owner of the Northern Anderson County EMS, a private ambulance service which, according to recent newspaper accounts, has apparently agreed to buy the county building it currently occupies.

Pelzer voters to decide on mayor

Pelzer voters will have a choice between two candidates for mayor in an election scheduled for Tuesday November 8.  The race will feature Incumbent D. Page Henderson seeking re-election against challenger Kenneth E. Davis for the office of mayor.

Henderson and Davis faced off in 2003 in a hotly contested race that was disputed. Election results initially showed that Davis received 19 votes and Henderson received 18 votes.

Henderson formally protested the election on the grounds that two individuals who lived outside of the corporate town limits were allowed to cast ballots. Five citizens also protested the town council election due to confusing instructions on the ballot as well as how write-in votes were counted.

Election Commission Chairman Duncan Adams stated in hearings to decide the issue that he was not on site when the two individuals in question were allowed to vote in the election and that since their names were printed on the voter list, poll workers allowed them to vote.

The Municipal Election Commission (MEC) called for a new election for the town after results of the election were overturned as a result of the two protest hearings which challenged the election results due to irregularities in the election process.

The Town of Pelzer has 65 registered voter, according to the Anderson County Election Commission.

Polls will be at the Pelzer Community Building in the Pelzer Park. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. on election day. Should a runoff be necessary, it will be held two weeks after the election on Tuesday, November 22. 

Grant awarded for new turnout gear

The Piedmont Fire Department learned this week that they will be the recipient of a $147,748 grant from the U. S. Department of Homeland Security. The District will have a five percent match of $7,776 for the $155,524 cost of the project.

The Firefighter operations and safety grant will be used to purchase 30 sets of turnout gear, 24 self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) airpacks and one 60 minute rapid intervention team (RIT) pack, Piedmont Assistant Fire Chief Tracy Wallace said. The RIT pack is an extra breathing apparatus that may be needed for a trapped or downed firefighter.

The department will also purchase one thermal image camera which helps firefighters see through smoke and allows a firefighter to move more safely through a smoke or fire environment for the rescue of a downed firefighter. It also allows firefighters to find hotspots, Wallace said.

The Piedmont Fire Department had applied for the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate (FEMA) assistance to firefighters grant program for four years, Wallace said. “We are certainly happy about this award,” he said.

Watch sale to benefit victims

Williamston area residents now have the opportunity to purchase a town watch and help hurricane victims at the same time.

Williamston resident Robert Vaughn is working with the Town of Williamston on the fundraising project which will benefit hurricane victims in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

All proceeds from the sale of the watches will go to the relief fund for the hard hit barrier island town which has been adopted by Williamston.

Two different designs are available featuring the Town of Williamston (Springhouse) or the Williamston Police Department (patch) on the face plate. Watches are available with silver or gold trim. Each design is also available in men’s and ladies’ styles, Vaughn said.

Advance orders for the watches are now being taken at the Williamston Municipal Center or by contacting Vaughn. The watches are $20 each.

For information call the Municipal Center at (864) 847-7473 or Vaughn at (864) 847-8114.

Officers investigate thefts

The Williamston Police Department investigated several thefts and other incidents during October. Among incidents investigated were:

Oct. 20 - Belinda Marie Wade, 50, 1428 Greer Hwy. Travelers Rest, reported items valued at $2,200 removed form a storage building unit #21 at 100 Brown St., Williamston. Forced entry was gained by cutting a padlock. Missing items included Avon cosmetics valued at $1,500; $400 in change; and gold jewelry valued at $300. Sgt. J. H. Kirby investigated.

Oct. 17 - Hickory Point BP, 103 Greenville Dr., Williamston, reported a light blue Ford Explorer SC tag 429CYC and driven by a white female drove off without paying for $47.77 in gas. Z. E. Gregory investigated.

Oct. 17 - Terry Scott Griffen, 20, 411 Parker St., Williamston, was arrested for simple possession of marijuana and no S. C. drivers license in possession after a white Dodge pickup was observed on Anderson Drive with no tail lights. Griffen had an active bench warrant with West Pelzer police department. He was released to West Pelzer police Chief Bernard Wilson and transported to ACDC.

Upon arrival at the detention center, reports state he gave a very small amount of marijuana to Wilson and was issued a summons for simple possession of .01 grams of marijuana.  Sgt. Z. E. Gregory investigated.

Oct. 18 - Amber Nicole Aiken, 24, 245 Old Hundred Rd., Pelzer, was arrested for no vehicle license, no proof of insurance and driving under suspension after a vehicle was observed on  Ida Tucker Rd. Lt. J. T. Motes investigated.

Oct. 15 - Christopher Lee Locklear, 24, 150 Maple St., Brunswick, N. C., was arrested for no drivers license after a red Nissan was observed crossing the center line on Main St. Sgt. Z. E. Gregory investigated.

Oct. 15 - Jamie Doug Gambrell, 30, 102 E. St., Williamston, reported two bicycles valued at $100 removed from his yard. Lt. J. T. Motes investigated.

Oct. 16 - Ron Gilbert, 30, 146 North St., Williamston, reported a blue Schwinn bicycle valued at $150 missing from the residence.

Oct. 16 - Misty Renea Norris, 25, 216 Coker Rd., Anderson, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle after officers were dispatched to Oak St. in reference to a suspicious vehicle. The vehicle, a black Pontiac valued at $2,000, was reported stolen to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. C. J. Sanders, Sgt. J. H. Kirby investigated.

Officers investigated a complaint of two juveniles who painted a sidewalk outside of building #4 at Middleton Blvd., Apartments causing $500 in damage. Sgt. A. B. Singleton investigated.

Andy Ford, a teacher at Palmetto Middle School, N. Hamilton St., Williamston, reported $150 in damage to the windshield of his 2004 Ford truck. Reports state a juvenile who had earlier asked Ford if the truck was his, admitted to throwing an object at the vehicle causing the damage. D. W. Alexander investigated.

Oct. 10 - Marcos Arturo Illingworth Reyna, 24, 309 Burgess School Rd., Pelzer, was arrested and charged with no drivers license and driving too fast for conditions after a blue Dodge 4 door was observed traveling 50 mph in a 25 mph zone on Main St. J. H. Kirby investigated.

Oct. 12 - Edward D. Revis, 40 McAlister St., Williamston, reported collectible items including five Budweiser Christmas mugs valued at $100, and two Dale Earnhardt Mountain Dew bottles valued at $3 taken from the residence. Forced entry was gained by knocking out a piece of plywood nailed to the front door. J. T. Bauer investigated.

Oct. 3 - Carl Andrew Wardlaw, 42, 110 Gossett Dr., Williamston, was arrested for vandalism and public disorderly conduct after causing $500 in damage to a 1993 Saturn. The damage occurred during a fighing incident with his mother at Pecan Terrace Apartments, 100 Gossett Dr.. J. T. Bauer investigated.

Oct. 4 - After extinguishing a brush fire at the same location twice, the Williamston Fire Department reported seeing a suspicious person driving a burgundy Land Rover at the scene both times. J. T. Motes investigated.

Oct. 13 - Sharon Annett Allen, 27, 18 Mineral Park Drive, Williamston, reported two sets of golf clubs valued at $850 removed from an unsecured shed in the yard. P. D. Marter investigated.

Oct. 13 - Edwin Anthony Ellison, 44, 503 Forest Hills Dr., Williamston, was arrested for simple assault in connection with an incident that occurred at 205 Prince St. on Oct. 12. J. T. Bauer investigated.

Oct. 12 - Robert Lee Edwards, 38, 16 Tripp St., Williamston was arrested for public disorderly conduct after being observed slumped over at a concrete picnic table for sale at Williamston Curb Market., 508 Greenville Drt., Williamston. Lt. J. T. Motes investigated.

Oct. 8 - Deborah Elaine Alewine, 46, 2 West Third St., Williamston, reported $75 in cash stolen from her residence. Sgt. A. B. Singleton investigated.

Oct. 4 - Amber Nicole Sammons, 17, 32 Woodmere Ct., Williamston, was arrested for fighting with a 16 year old juvenile at Palmetto High School. D. W. Bryant investiagted.

October 8 - Joshua Nigel Finley, 22, 123 Old Field Circle, Williamston, was arrested for public drunkeness and no proof of insurance after a 1999 Acura was observed at 11 West Main St. Williamston. Sgt. A. B. Singleton investigated.









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