News Archive

(4407) Week of Oct. 31, 2007

District issues notice on staph infections
Focus groups provide feedback to District One School Board
District One shows improvement in AYP
Residential boom continues for area
Public invited to offer input on growth
Pelzer Memories to explore “conflict”
PERC to join Piedmont Fire in helping needy this Christmas
Council Chairman has issues with Administrator’s correspondence
Anderson Sheriff’s report
Cromer hosts fundraiser for veteran families
Ron Wilson presents check to Wren Youth
Officer no longer employed by town
Seems to Me . . . Doing it right

District issues notice on staph infections

By Stan Welch

Anderson District One schools have issued warnings about a strain of the staphylococcus infection which does not respond to the antibiotics normally used to combat such infections. Those warnings are a proactive attempt by the District to give parents information on how to avoid the problem, which has not shown up in any of the district’s schools so far.

The staph strain, known as methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, has been in the news frequently in recent weeks. There have been some confirmed cases in the state, although none have been reported in District One. Staphylococcus is a common bacteria, which is found in the nose and on the skin. It is contagious and it can cause infections if it enters the body through a break in the skin, such as a cut or sore.

Staph germs can become resistant to antibiotics, which is the case with MRSA. Parents and students can do several things to protect themselves, according to information on MRSA obtained from media reports and internet research. The website (www.scdhec.gov)  for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control offers a great deal of information, for example.

 The simple step of frequently washing one’s hands can be an effective step in avoiding contamination. Cleaning the various surfaces in the home or office is another method of reducing one’s chances of infection. The letters list various other steps that can be taken.

 Letters sent home to parents are essentially the same, except for the first section, which reflects the individual school’s experience with staph cases this year. For example, the letter sent to parents of Wren High school students says that a few cases of staph have been reported, but no cases of MRSA. Each school was encouraged to be specific about its own experience, before using a more formatted approach to providing the information.

 David Havird, spokesman for District One, says that the occurrence of several cases of staph each year is not unusual, but the number of cases is up a bit this year. “We have had a few more cases of staph than usual so far this year. Considering that fact and the public attention to MRSA we decided to be proactive in our approach and provide parents with some information on this matter. In addition to sending letters home to the parents, we have reviewed information on antibiotic resistant strains of staph with our staff. Since athletes can be more exposed to such infections, we have our athletic directors and trainers performing more frequent cleanings of the facilities and even the equipment used by the athletes.”

MRSA is a serious issue, causing as many as 94,000 life-threatening infections and up to 19,000 deaths in the United States in 2005, the last year statistics are available for.

Focus groups provide feedback to District One School Board

During their monthly meeting Tuesday, Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard a positive audit report, responses from a focus group on school needs and  agreed to proceed with a construction management contract.

Accountant Larry Finney of Greene, Finney & Horton CPA auditing firm reported that the District had received an unqualified opinion as a result of their audit.

“It went as well if not better than it has before,” Finney told the Board.

An unqualified opinion is “as good as it gets,” Finney said.

Finney reported that the District general fund balance had increased $2 million to $6.7 million.

Based on the GFOA recommendation of 10 to 20 percent of operating expenses, the District is in the middle at 14 percent

Finney said the fund balance would help with cash flow and allow the district to get better rating on bonds, saving money.

Finney said that three main reasons to maintain the fund balance  include: providing cash flow during the second half of the year since property taxes the District operate on are collected early; significant emergencies and unanticipated expenditures and significant nonrecurring planned expenditures.

He reported General Fund revenues had increased approximately $4.5 million to $47.4 million.The increase came from state revenue of $3.1 million from the increase in state base student cost, EFA revenue increase and the result of the increase in the number of students in the District.

Property taxes revenues also increased approximately $1.4 million.

General Fund expenditures increased approximately $4 million. Instruction increased $2.6 million, due primarily to an increase in teachers salary and employee benefits.

There was also an increase in support services of $.7 million and capital outlay of $.5 million for maintenance on buildings.

Revenue was overbudget by $1.5 million due to the district not budgeting for EFA revenue increase, Finney said.

Expenditures were over budget by $.3 million primarily due to high capital outlay from new capital leases.

Food Services showed a profitable sixth year in a row and good control of expenses, Finney said. The fund had a solid amount of cash and investments of $1.3 million. According to Finney, “It also showed solid assets, but not excessive, which can be used for future equipment replacement.”

Under GASB#34, the District showed total assets of $68.5 million, total liablitites of $29.9 million, total net assets of $38.6 million, total revenues of $64.6 million and total expenses of $60.6 million.

Finney said some items were pointed out in the management letters including the need for an accounting policy and procedure manual , pupil activity procedures and eight new auditing standards which will provide more focus on control environment.

Finney said the audit team had visited four schools and found some were not following the policies and procedures for accounting and financial records.

Overall he praised the District board and staff for their financial status.

“Great job from the board standpoint and management standpoint,” Finney said. He also said they continue to see improvement in the finance department and the way things are being done.

Financial

District One Finance Director Steve Uldrick reported the District has received a payment of $358,000, or 1/10th of the property tax payment from the State. Uldrick said the District is expected to receive $3.8 million to $4 million from the 1 cent sales tax.

Education

Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler reported the District had placed among the top in the state on the S. C. State Dept. of Education Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report. The AYP is an annual determination of whether schools, districts and the state make progress toward the goal of having all students meet academic standards by 2014. (See seperate story)

Dr. Fowler said the District met 30 out of 33 objectives which he said is one of the highest net rates in the state.

Food Services

Assistant Superintendent David Havird reported that the food service department had $318,086 in revenues and $293,789 in expenses for a profit of $24,297.

He also said the department showed a $33,000 loss for the month because of expenses and new equipment purchased for six schools.

Focus groups

Board members heard a report on the responses of focus groups organized to receive input on building needs in the District.

Focus groups met Oct. 22 at Powdersville Middle, Wren Middle, Palmetto Middle and Spearman Elementary schools.

 Participants who were invited by the District consisted of PTO members, booster club members, retirees, residents with children and without and some involved in athletics.

According to Dr. Fowler, trained facilitators from the S. C. School Board Association helped with the meetings.

Eighty people were invited to attend Dr. Fowler said, representing a cross section of the District. Approximately  30 showed up to participate.

The  group that met at Spearman represented a cross section of the District, he said.

Results from the focus groups, according to infomation provided by the District, showed the following:

According to the focus groups, strengths of the District include the teachers and administrators, District Board doing a great job in being frugal and fiscally responsible while getting high achievement scores and lower spent per student.

They like the community feel and the freshman academies.

Also there is business support, smaller schools and property values continue to climb because of the schools.

Weaknesses pointed out by the focus groups were portables, “even though teachers were making the best use they could of them,” Fowler said.

High pupil to teacher ratio, older buildings, lack of some programs at both high schools, technology, lack of space were other weaknesses mentioned. Some said better athletic facilities are needed.

When asked to rate concerns, overcrowding and parking were an issue while security at Palmetto and Cedar Grove Elementary were a priority.

Other concerns were that the district was not keeping up with other school district facilities which are more new or more modern and athletics should not be a factor.

The focus groups did compliment the maintenance department for keeping the facilities in good repair, especially the older buildings.

While the upper end of the District has seen the most growth, Dr. Fowler stated that “with more people moving in, the growth  is beginning to push itself in this direction (toward Williamston).”

Dr. Fowler pointed out that property values in the Powdersville area are about twice those in the lower part of the District and people moving in can take advantage of the lower property costs and still get into District One schools.

Dr. Fowler said when he presented information about growth in the District to the Board in a previous meeting, he limited it to 3 percent, which is  based on a five year trend, which he said is low.

“I’m just saying it will continue in the next 5 years,” he said.

When asked to look at several proposals, a majority suggested that a new high school should be built in the Powdersville area and that it include a freshman academy.

The report states that while a high school took center stage with the discussion, it was clear the renovation of older buildings should take priority.

When asked to rank three proposals offered by the District to deal with the growth, the focus groups responded:

The District should make additions to all schools that are at or over capacity, renovate older buildings (Palmetto and Wren Middle) and build a third high school in the Powdersville area.

The second ranked proposal is to make additions to all schools that are at or over capacity, renovate older buildings,and an addition made to Wren High.

Third is to make additions to all schools that are at or over capacity, renovate older buildings and build a separate Freshman Academy near the Wren High School campus.

Dr. Fowler said that the focus groups were anxious to receive more information including costs, building capacities and enrollment figures.

He said he initially wanted to provide the information but the school board facilitators recommended against it.

After additional discussion, Board Chairman Fred Alexander suggested they should move ahead with price estimates and meet in a work session.

The Board went into an executive session to discuss personnel and a contractural matter.

Upon returning to open session, the Board unanimously approved a recommendation by Dr. Fowler to proceed with a construction management contract with M. B. Kahn.

The company will help with cost estimates until a referendum is approved and there is no cost to the District until construction actually begins.

According to Dr. Fowler, the consultant will help with cost estimates, oversee the construction phase and supervise the day to day work over a five year period if necessary.

The Board also unanimouly approved personnel recommendations.

District One shows improvement in AYP

Anderson District One continues to rate among the top districts across the state showing improvement on the state AYP measurement.

The district showed improvement as reported by the S. C. State Department of Education, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), an annual determination of whether schools, districts and the state makes progress toward the goal of having all students meet academic standards by 2014.

Meeting the AYP goals for 2007 were Cedar Grove Elementary, Hunt Meadows Elementary, Palmetto Elementary, Pelzer Elementary, Powdersville Elementary, Spearman Elementary, West Pelzer Elementary, Wren Elementary and Palmetto High.

District One Superintendent, Dr. Wayne Fowler said, “Our district continues to perform at the top of the state in thenumber of schools meeting AYP and also in the number of objectives met for the district. We met 30 of our 33 objectives. Of the fourteen schools in District One, nine showed improvement. This was an increase over last year adding one successful high school. Concrete Primary School is not included in the rating.”

“All of our schools are working extremely hard to meet the targets required by the state and federal government,”  said Jane Harrison, Director of Elementary Education. “The teachers and administrators in the district are determined that the students in our district will “not be left behind and we will continue to teach for mastery and assist students in being successful.”

Residential boom continues for area

By Stan Welch

If it seems to you as if there is a housing boom going on in Anderson County School District One, you’re right.

According to figures provided by the Anderson County planning department, more than 2800 building permits have been issued in the last seven years in District One, or more than one a day for every day of that time.

Not surprisingly, much of the development has been centered in subdivisions and housing clusters, often in the Powdersville and Easley areas. Housing starts in the Wren area have been consistent as well, with a number of subdivisions or housing developments appearing over the last few years. The design and the nature of the developments varies considerably, with attendant differences in cost.

Birch Meadow, on Highway 17 just off of Highway 8 is an example of a higher scale development, with large brick homes of similar design and sizable lots. There is a common green area with playground equipment and picnic tables. Trinity’s Gate and the adjacent development Chestnut Springs, on Mountain View Road, feature large lots and large, high scale custom homes.

Crestland, just off Old Williamston Road near the Jockey Loy, features more moderate cost housing, with smaller, more affordable floor plans. The subdivision is fairly typical in size and layout, with approximately forty lots lining several cul de sacs off the main road in and out of the development.

Wyatt’s Grant, Rushton, The Oaks at Shiloh Church, Innisbrook, and Blythwood cover the spectrum of housing options from vinyl covered homes of 1500 to 2000 square feet, beginning in the $130,000 range to large luxury homes in the $300,000-$500,000.

As varied as the costs and styles of the housing options are, so too are the approaches to creating the neighborhoods that surround the homes. 

For example, Blythwood, developed by Rusty Garrett and marketed through Tower Homes, abuts Blythwood Common, a shopping area which will  include restaurants, dry cleaners and other service oriented businesses.

Located in Piedmont near I-85, Blythwood contains 79 lots with prices starting at $140,000. The Blythwood project does not figure into the 2800 permits mentioned earlier, since it was begun earlier this year.

Ridgewood Plantation, springing up along Firetower Road just off Highway 81, is a gated community with an average lot size of an acre. The 120 acre development is just getting started with one house completed and two others under construction. The development will also include a pool and clubhouse.

Jeff Ricketson, Anderson County Planning Director, says the growth in school district one is unlikely to slow in the near future. 

“As more people move into Anderson County who work in Greenville County, this type of residential growth is going to continue, and likely, to increase.”

The increased construction has resulted in increasing demands for services and infrastructure. The County is about to open a government services building and library in the Powdersville area, as well as continuing to develop a recycling education center and athletic complex along the Saluda River.

Public invited to offer input on growth

Persons wishing to comment on the management of future growth and development in Anderson County are invited to attend community planning meetings to be conducted in the area by the Anderson County Planning Division during the next  few weeks.

Two area meetings are set for Nov. 1at Wren High School and  Nov. 8 at Palmetto High School. A final meeting will be held Nov. 15 at the Main Library in Anderson. The meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and will last approximately one hour, officials said.

The meetings are open to the public and constructive comments are welcome. All residents are encouraged to participate.Anderson County Planning officials have scheduled the meetings to discuss future development and the implementation of the County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. 

Specific topics to be discussed will include, but are not limited to, tree preservation, protection of open space, traffic management, storm water management,  zoning and land use, and community appearance.

Representatives from the County Council Committee on Zoning and Land Use Policy will be present, as well as members of the Anderson County Planning Commission. County staff will be on hand to facilitate the discussion and receive input.  The input received will be used to formulate and enact policies to implement the recommendations of the recently adopted Anderson County Comprehensive Plan 2026 and the Imagine Anderson Community Vision.

For more information, contact the Anderson County Planning Division at 260-4043.

Pelzer Memories to explore “conflict”

Persons interested in exploring Pelzer history are invited to  the next Memories by the Fireside event at the Historic Pelzer Gym on Nov. 2 from 7-8 p.m. The theme will be “Conflict”.

Featured will be Professor Bryant Simon’s book “A Fabric of Defeat The Politics of South Carolina Millhands, 1910-1948" which is dedicated in remembrance of the Pelzer Strike.

Professor Simon has written these words inside the copy of his book that will be on display: “I have long been inspired by the struggles of decent working people in your town. Their grace and nobility under fire can teach us a lot. Thank you for welcoming my book into your hearts and discussions.” Professor Bryant Simon, American Studies Temple University Philadelphia, PA.

Also featured will be information related to the War on Terror and honoring Veterans from Pelzer. For directions or donations of information contact Cynthia Welborn at 864.634.7700 or cynthiawelborn@gmail.com.

PERC to join Piedmont Fire in helping needy this Christmas

The Piedmont Emergency Relief Center (PERC) and the Piedmont Fire Department are partnering for needy families and their children this Christmas season.

The Fire Department has collected money for its “Toys for Needy Children’s Fund”  for many years.

For Christmas 2007, in addition to toys, the two organizations plan to partner to offer an Angel Food Ministries food box.

“To do this will take the entire community,” said Tracy Wallace, Chief of the Piedmont Fire Department.  

Both organizations will be accepting donations for toys and food for the needy in Piedmont, Pelzer, Williamston  and Greenville (29611). 

Last year the PFD “Needy Family Fund” helped about 88 families across the Upstate.

In addition to these, PERC is planning to give out an additional 40 Angel Food boxes for a total of 128 boxes. 

PERC be accepting donations to meet their goal of $3,200 to fund their part of the project by Dec. 1. 

“Donations will feed a family, comfort a child, bring hope to someone you may never meet but will be forever grateful for your Christmas spirit and generosity,” organizer Jed Daughtry said.

Donations for food can be mailed to PERC at PO Box 424, Piedmont, S.C.,  29673 or dropped by the PERC office Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

For more than two years, PERC has provided needy families with quality, yet inexpensive food as an Angel Food Ministries host site.  There are no income qualifications to purchase food through Angel Food Ministries. 

“Anyone can purchase Angel Food boxes,” said Ron Hedstrom, president of PERC’s board of directors.  “President Bush and his wife, Laura or even Bill and Melinda Gates can buy.  No questions asked.”

Angel Food Ministries provide a monthly menu to its host sites.  The Angel Food box has $50 to $60 of retail food value but sells for only $25. 

Angel Food boxes are designed to feed a family of four for about a week or a single senior citizen for about a month.  A recent special was 10 pounds Popcorn Chicken for $15 making the chicken cost $1.50 a pound.  PERC can accept cash or food stamps for payment.

The menu changes each month.  All food is restaurant quality and there are no seconds, damaged or out of date foods.  

Menus are available from the PERC office, local churches, and local businesses.  Any church or business within zip codes 29673, 29697, 29669, and 29611 is invited to be placed on PERC’s menu distribution list. 

Please email: jeddaughtry@piedmonterc.org to be put on the menu list, or fax contact information to 845-5537.

 Applications for toys and food will be taken beginning  Dec. 1.

To receive toys and a food box, families must be qualified by documented government assistance such as food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, free or reduced school lunches, Social Security disability, etc.  They must also bring a birth certificate for each child to receive toys.

“We are just trying to be good stewards with the money the community is donating,” said Chief Wallace.

The PERC invites other fire departments, churches, Sunday School classes, businesses, civic organizations, or any group of caring people in the area to help raise the necessary funds for toys and Adopt Angel Food Ministries food box for a needy family.

PERC is asking churches to ask their congregations to donate an Angel Food Ministries box to the needy.  There are about 130 churches in the area.

“If most would donate one or two boxes, we could easily reach our goal of 128 boxes,” said Sue Sargent, volunteer director of PERC’s Angel Food Ministries.  “Any more than that will feed the needy in February, March, April, and the rest of 2008.  Adopt A Box is your compassion at work – your faith in action.”

Council Chairman has issues with Administrator’s correspondence

By Stan Welch

A somewhat prickly relationship between Anderson County Council Chairman Bob Waldrep and County Administrator Joey Preston became a little thornier recently, when Waldrep declined to endorse a budget transmittal letter, which Preston sent to him for his signature.

The letter was four pages and apparently painted a rosier picture of the county’s finances and financial procedures than Waldrep sees. The letter spoke glowingly of the budget process and the manner in which the final budget reflects the needs of the county.  

Waldrep seems to see much of the letter’s content as self-congratulatory and short on substance. For example, the letter refers repeatedly to sources of revenue which are ‘anticipated”, such as federal funding in the amount of more than three million dollars for roads. A $200,000 increase in ‘C’ funds, also to be used for roads, is also “anticipated”.

Waldrep, who has crossed swords with Preston several times in recent months, told The Journal that he found the letter, as well as the manner in which it was presented to him, unsatisfactory.

“I don’t know what the purpose of this letter is exactly, in terms of official impact or status. I do know that it was dated June 19 of this year, and was hand delivered to me on October 19. A young woman brought it over to my law offices and actually stood there waiting for me to sign it and send it back. I really found that remarkable, as if an elected official was expected to automatically approve whatever was presented to him. Now, this was a four page letter full of information that required at least one thorough reading before I signed it. So I declined to sign it at that time, and sent the courier back empty handed,” said Waldrep in a recent telephone interview. “I later sent Mr. Preston a note offering to meet with him and discuss the letter and some of the questions I had, but to present, he has not responded.”

Waldrep said that he was later contacted by county financial analyst Gina Humphreys, who told him there was an immediate deadline for signing the letter. “I told her I was sorry I couldn’t sign the letter until I had time to study it."

After reading the letter carefully, Waldrep responded to Preston several days later with a letter of his own. The tone of that letter makes it clear that there is a gulf between the Chairman of the elected Council and the chief administrator of the county.

In his letter, Waldrep attempted to explain why he declined to sign the letter. Citing his often expressed intent to seek clarity in the government process, Waldrep says “Since I have been on council I have perceived hostility from your administration whenever I have sought information I deem important to the County financial system.”

The letter refers to a Council meeting at which  his questioning of Ms. Humphreys’ failure to provide monthly financial reports, despite her assurances in January of 2007 that she could do so, resulted in Preston chiding Waldrep for “belittling “ his staff. It was during that meeting that Waldrep referred to Preston and Humphreys as “the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of the county’s finances”.

The letter also states, “Mr. Preston, if asking questions about our county finances which are required under law cause such discomfort, I believe there are serious problems with our finances. Providing accurate timely reports regarding our finances is fundamental to the duty of county council.”

Waldrep also challenges the County fiscal policies of transfers, loans and other forms of borrowing. “This practice makes true auditing so obfuscated that it defies definition. The debacle of the $5 million deficit of the Sheriff which required additional taxation is a textbook example of shifting, borrowing funds without controls in place which ultimately had a significant effect on the taxpayers of Anderson County.”

An additional 4.5 mils was needed to address the Sheriff’s deficit in this year’s budget. 

Another point of contention Waldrep raises is the manner in which the County awards contracts. 

“I find our system for bidding for services to be highly questionable. A quick reference to Michelin Boulevard is a case in point. You contracted with a company which made political contributions to council members to construct a highway in the county which has failed to meet appropriate standards and resulted in expensive repair; yet you have refused to initiate legal action for breach of contract.”

Michelin Boulevard was constructed, as part of a state incentive package to entice Michelin to Anderson County, under the supervision of B.P. Barber, a frequent recipient of county contracts. The SCDOT has repeatedly refused to accept the road into the state system for maintenance because it does not meet state standards. The state has expressed their refusal as recently as this year.

Anderson County’s refusal to assume  responsibility for the significant cost overruns on the project resulted in changes in state policy, and leading to SCDOT constructing such projects as part of future incentive offerings to industries or manufacturers.

The efforts by the County to procure and construct an 800 MHz radio network also come under Waldrep’s scrutiny in the letter. Waldrep says he had independently sought information related to the system, and had asked two Emergency Services officers, Capt. Matt Littleton and Ike Brissey, to meet with him and aid in his investigation.

“Before the meeting could be held, I received a call from Ike Brissey apologetically telling me that you refused to allow these officers to meet with me. I ask you, Mr. Preston, how can you explain forbidding me as an elected council member from doing my own due diligence when you chose not to employ a competitive bidding process?”

The County has chosen to pursue the avenue of the Palmetto 800 statewide system which is a state collaboration with Motorola, which owns the system. If all anticipated grants are in fact obtained, an additional $8.5 million will be needed to construct the system. The County has repeatedly said that it is the cheapest and best method of achieving the digital communications system.

At a recent Council meeting, however, a representative of another systems provider said that the County had not allowed him and his company to compete for the contract, and he questioned the bidding process followed by the County. He indicated that his company could install a system cheaper and more effectively.

He also stated that the reported urgency in placing the reserved frequencies into use prior to an FCC deadline, which County officials had repeatedly stressed in support of their pursuit of the Motorola system, could easily be addressed by a temporary system which could be built in a matter of weeks and not months.

The issue of obsolescence was also raised, with the TYCO, Inc. representative claiming that the phase one system the County was pursuing would be made obsolete by the phase two system which is due on the market at about the same time the County’s system would be finished.

Waldrep’s letter continues, “I understand that the evolving technology will most probably result in an outdated system and cause a taxpayer loss of millions of dollars. I firmly believe that more investigation and a competitive bidding process is vital to the success of such an important and costly system.”

Waldrep concludes by saying, “I can only speak for myself in reviewing these matters, but as you can see, I cannot in good conscience sign such a self congratulating letter which I find misleading to my constituents and to Anderson County as a whole.”

Anderson Sheriff’s report

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated the following incidents:

PELZER

Oct. 27 – R.N. Holbrooks responded to 2 Main St. where Amber Moore, of the Hickory Point convenience store reported that a white male, 20-30 years old, 5’10", 160 pounds wearing a gray tank top had stolen some motor oil and a case of beer. He left in a white Chevy extended cab truck with Maine state tag # 735460.

Oct. 28 – T.W. Newman received a telephone call at the ACSO desk from Mary Mayzek,  a clerk at the Pelzer Point Shell station at 1721 Easley Hwy. Mayzek reported that a white male in his twenties or early thirties came in and picked up two cases of beer and walked out. He was wearing a dingy gray sweat shirt and dirty black and blue pants. He had long sandy brown hair, was about 5’2" and was skinny. He left in a white or beige truck, possibly a Ford F-150 with no tag.

Oct. 29 – T.B. Dugan responded to 142 Pine Circle where Shannon Black, WM, 26, reported that he was assaulted. No arrest was made at the time but the incident report indicates that Dugan would be seeking a warrant in the case.

Oct. 29 – M.A. Whitfield was dispatched to 109 Hampton St. where John Lindley reported that someone had broken into his car and stolen a wallet containing $264 and five knives. The loss was estimated at $569.

Oct. 30 – T.B. Dugan was dispatched to 119 Page St. where Timothy Garrett reported that he had investigated an alarm going off in his storage building and found the door broken open. Nothing appeared to be missing.

PIEDMONT

Oct. 27 – R.N. Holbrooks responded to 143 Reserve Dr. where Joey Hoffman, employed by the David Smith company, reported that someone had broken into the vacant home at that location and stolen a stainless steel wine cooler, valued at $700.

Oct. 27 – W.E. Gregory responded to Wadmalaw Dr. where Leticia Campos, of Greenville, reported that her son Ed Gomez, had driven her car to visit a friend at the Heritage Trace apartments. An hour after arriving, he heard a loud explosion and went outside to find the car in flames. The fire is listed as suspicious.

Oct. 27 – W.E. Gregory was dispatched to 110 Frontage Rd. where he found a white male named Jeffrey Reno, who had been kicked off a Greyhound bus at the location. He was reported by store personnel to be sitting on a bench opening and closing a knife and talking loudly about killing all the blacks and Jews. He was arrested for breach of peace and transported to ACDC.

Oct. 28 – K.W. Pearson was dispatched to Hwy. 153 and I-85 where Christy Fuller reported that someone had stolen her 2000 gold Tahoe, bearing SC tag # 602BWH, valued at $12,000, and containing approximately $800 in money orders and a Compaq laptop computer valued at $2000.

WILLIAMSTON

Oct. 27 – R.D. Smith responded to 421 McAlister Rd. where he found Pamela Pryor, WF, 47, 5’, 95 pounds, brn/green walking along the road. She was found to be grossly intoxicated, according to the police report. She made a complaint of criminal domestic violence against her boyfriend. She was transported to ACDC on a charge of public disorderly conduct.

Oct. 28 – R.D. Smith was dispatched to 308 Anita Court where Marie Jacinto reported that someone had broken the back window out of her 2000 Ford Explorer, causing $200 in damage.

Oct. 28 – W.E. Gregory responded to 1399 Beaverdam Rd. where Crystal Lowery, WF, 28, reported that her boyfriend, Bobby Hugh Barnes, WM, 37, 5’8", 185 pounds, brn/brn was acting crazy and tearing up the house, While Gregory was on the scene, Barnes came outside and began using loud and profane language. When he refused to stop, he was arrested for breach of peace, and transported to ACDC.

Oct. 29 – K.D. Pigman was dispatched to Martin Rd. where Mark Littlejohn, of Blue Ridge Electric cooperative, reported that someone had stolen several pieces of braided copper cable from the substation at that location, as well as taking a transformer lying on the ground. The value was estimated at $1500.

Oct. 29 – M.A. Whitfield responded to 825 Belton Hwy. Where Larry Davenport reported the theft of a 2001 yellow Ford Mustang by two subjects. The two subjects, a white female, about 5’5", 110 pounds, blond and in her mid-forties, and a white male, gray and black hair, 5’6", 150 pounds, took the car for a test drive and did not return.

Cromer hosts fundraiser for veteran families

A fundraiser for the families of local servicemen and women who are deployed on active duty was hosted Saturday by local businessman C. T. Cromer.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham attended, as did U.S. Congressman Gresham Barrett and a host of local political figures. Sen. Graham stayed a short time before going to a ceremony honoring a Spartanburg soldier who lost both legs in recent action in the Gulf area.

 Local politicians attending included State Rep. Dan Cooper, State Rep. Brian White, and State Rep. Michael D. Thompson. Also on hand was 10th Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams.

 Cromer provided barbecue and bluegrass music, as the fundraiser attempted to raise ten thousand dollars to support the families of local service men and women deployed overseas.

Ron Wilson presents check to Wren Youth

Anderson County Councilman Ron Wilson recently presented a check in the amount of $10,000 to the Wren Youth Association. The funds will be used to make improvements to the Hurricane Springs Park.

“The Board of Directors of the Wren Youth Association would like to thank Councilman Ron Wilson for his support,” said Wren Youth Association President Chris Folkman. “These funds will allow us to install safety netting around the baseball fields, purchase upgraded bleachers with safety railing and purchase much needed sporting equipment. WYA sports programs basically pay for themselves. We are dependent on support and donations from local business, individuals and Anderson County for additional expenses such as upgrades to Hurricane Springs Park and sporting equipment purchases.”

“This is great example of County Council working together with local representatives to make a difference,” said Anderson County Councilman Ron Wilson. “Children are the leaders of tomorrow. Safe and attractive ball fields and playgrounds provide them an atmosphere to learn teamwork and cooperation. This small investment paves the way for a much brighter future for all of us. We are always happy to honor such worthwhile requests. I only wish we could have given more.”

The WYA is a non-profit, all volunteer, organization that offers baseball, softball, basketball, football and cheerleading to youth in Northern Anderson County.

For more information, visit the Tri-County Soccer Club web site: www.tcsc.org. 

Officer no longer employed by town

By Stan Welch

A Williamston police officer accused of assaulting his daughter at a local convenience store three weeks ago is no longer an employee of the Town, said Mayor Phillip Clardy late Tuesday afternoon.

Three weeks after Michael Semones allegedly assaulted his daughter after pulling over while driving her to school to “discipline her” Semones was fired after refusing several opportunities to resign from the department.

“The biggest factor in the decision to fire Mr. Semones is the result of an internal investigation, and not the actual incident at the store. That was investigated by the Sheriff’s Office since it happened outside the town limits," Clardy said.

Placed on unpaid administrative leave as a result of an internal department investigation into the incident, which was witnessed by several people as it occurred, Semones was never charged by Anderson authorities, despite eyewitness testimony that he struck his daughter, while pinning her in the back seat of his car. Two other children were in the car at the time, according to an incident report filed by the ACSO deputy who responded to a witness’s 911 call.

Solicitor Chrissy Adams decided that the allegations against Semones were “unfounded” and declined to press charges. Semones was never taken into custody, and eyewitnesses at the scene reported that the responding officer spoke abusively to the victim.

Mayor Clardy stressed that the incident at the convenience store was not the first concerns the department had experienced about Semones’ conduct. “There were other factors of his employment which the chief had been reviewing before this particular incident. This might be described as the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The Mayor said that the town will follow its announced policy of rehiring employees released last year as part of the town’s response to financial problems. “There is a candidate who is a former employee who will be interviewed, but Chief Baker has made no decision at this time,” said the Mayor, who added that no further action by the Town regarding Semones is anticipated.

Seems to Me . . . Doing it right

By Stan Welch

Most of us were taught as kids that there is a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do. We were taught as a corollary lesson that there is a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things. We have all been taught that if you are going to do something, do it right. If a thing is worth doing do it right. If you’re not going to do it right, don’t bother to do it at all. Do it right the first time. And on and on and on.

I heard those words, in all their various combinations, time after time, until I wanted to scream. But, lo and behold, they stuck. I learned them, and they stayed with me until my own experience taught me their value.

Those words have come back to me in recent weeks as I have observed the County Council and the other people involved as they pursue the purchase and installation of an emergency 800 MHz system for the county’s first responders and other emergency personnel.

I first began hearing about this issue shortly after coming to Anderson County almost three years ago. That’s one reason I get a little puzzled by the use of urgency as a selling tool for the system that is obviously on the inside track for approval by the county. We’re told that if the frequencies reserved by the FCC for Anderson County aren’t in use by the deadline, they will be offered to other users on a first come first served basis.

Yet, the representative of a company that is a major player in the field of electronics and trunked digital radio systems, once he got before the Council, informed them that such a problem can be handled by a temporary arrangement that he can produce in four weeks. In other words, the sense of urgency that is being used to push towards acceptance of a system that the state of South Carolina sanctions, is actually not so urgent after all. Maybe there’s time to look into alternatives, or simply perform an objective review of the proposal before Council now. Perhaps there’s time to do it right.

Another point raised by the representative for TYCO, which thought it was going to be allowed to bid on providing the system, is the possibility that the phase one system currently favored by the Council and, for lack of a better term, currently being hawked by the emergency services division, may be obsolete by the time the County can install it. Added to that is the county’s acknowledgement that the system will not be supported by Motorola any longer, although ESD director Taylor Jones says the county has assurances from Motorola that they will still support Anderson County’s system. So the system will be obsolete everywhere but Anderson County?

But the greatest reason for these adages about doing things right echoing in my head for the last few weeks is simply this. No competitive bid process was followed as the county considered this matter. The TYCO representative, James Potter, says that the method followed was unlike any he has seen used elsewhere. He never got to speak with anyone outside the emergency services division. No one in finance, no one in purchasing, no one in administration spoke with Potter, according to his statements. As for speaking with an elected official? Please! That simply isn’t done in Anderson County.

Not one time in the three years that I have been aware, to one level or another, of this system and its impending purchase, has any name but Motorola been mentioned. The state has placed its full weight behind Motorola in selling this system from the beaches to the mountains of this state. Maybe the consortium of state and private enterprise offers the best deal, but the whole idea makes me nervous. When one business, one corporate entity receives the kind of favored treatment that Motorola is receiving in this matter, it doesn’t strike me as either doing things right or doing the right thing.

Now, Joey Preston and Robert Carroll, purchasing director, and Tom Martin and Taylor Jones and everyone else has pointed out that since the state has in effect, performed a bid process and chosen Motorola, the County has no legal obligation to perform its own competitive bid process. That is unquestionably correct. That doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do or the right way to do business.

When it was suggested last year that the Sheriff’s cars be purchased through a state contract, there was no problem in justifying using a different process then. So, since the urgency issue is off the table, why not slow down a bit and review the offers, and possibly even solicit others, to ensure not only the most efficient system, but one that will be usable for ten or fifteen years?

Seems to me that would be the right thing to do and be doing things the right way.

 

 

 

 

 

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