(4505) Week of Nov. 9, 2005
approves BAN extension, rezoning for Spinx property
Williamston Town Council approved several ordinances during their regular monthly meeting Monday, including one which extends the $350,000 BAN note due in December. They also approved rezoning of property which will allow a new business project in the town.
At the start of the meeting,
Council went into a 30 minute executive session to discuss a contractural matter and possible property purchase.
Upon returning to regular session, Council approved an ordinance which allows the Anderson Regional Joint Water System to proceed with a revenue bond for an expansion.
Each of the 13 member water systems in the joint system must individually approve the bond issue, according to town attorney Richard Thompson.
The agreement also includes increased minimum purchase amounts and penalties for overages of contracted amounts.
The penalties and usage were discussed in a work session held prior to the regular meeting. Williamston Water Department Supervisor Tim Hood told Council members that the Joint Water System will require the town to purchase more water or face a penalty if the town goes over the one million gallon limit now in effect.
Hood said the town uses approximately 800,000 gallons a day but could exceed that amount resulting in a penalty that remains in effect for an unspecified period of time.
A 1.3 million gallon agreement was recommended. Any excess could be resold to other members of the association or to the joint water system according to Mayor Phillip Clardy.
The water providers joined to form the Anderson Regional Joint Water System in 2002. The ARJWS is the operator of the water treatment plant located on Lake Hartwell that wholesales treated water to the member utilities.
Council also approved an extension on the 2004 Bond Anticipation Note (BAN) which is due in December.
The town borrowed $350,000 on Dec. 31 of 2004 which was used to repay a working capital deficit in the Towns General Fund, the ordinance states.
Before taking the vote, Town Attorney Richard Thompson told Council the BAN will have to be paid in full, refunded or refinanced and that real estate is to be sold to pay back the amount.
Thompson said the BAN is being extended because the property has not been sold due to questions about infrastructure.
The town has been in the process of selling the Cherokee Road property since last year when Mayor Clardy proposed that it could be sold to help with town finances, and later Clardy proposed the proceeds could be used to repay the BAN.
Mayor Clardy said that he had recently met with the real estate attorney and that the property will soon be to the point of the bidding process.
According to the ordinance, proceeds from the issuance will be used to defray the cost of the authorized purposes, to pay costs of issuance associated with the BAN or to pay interest on the BAN.
When Councilman Cecil Cothran asked about terms for the BAN, Clardy responded that the terms are set forth in the ordinance and that the entire ordinance could be read if Council wanted.
There was little discussion by Council though a citizen in the audience, Gary Bannister did attempt to comment, but was not allowed to speak. Cothran then said he saw no other choice but to extend the BAN note.
Clardy seconded a motion by Cothran and the ordinance was unanimously approved without further discussion.
Council also unanimously approved a backflow policy ordinance requested by DHEC requiring property owners with lawn sprinkler systems to have a backflow device and mandatory testing.
The property owner will be responsible for having the device installed and tested every two years Clardy said.
Attorney Thompson said DHEC requires the device to prevent water from entering a private system and returning to the public system with possible contamination.
In other business, Council approved rezoning of property which will allow a $2.1 million project for a new business in Williamston. The rezoning of approximately two acres will allow The Spinx company to build a new gas station, restaurant and store at the corner of Hamilton St. and Greenville Dr.
Plans call for a new 6,500 square foot building which will include 8 gasoline pumps, a car wash and store on approximately 3 acres.
Spinx bought the property which was originally a JRs location on approximately one acre. A one acre lot next to the property and a 5 acre tract behind the property was purchased to make room for the project.
The Williamston planning commission recently approved rezoning a portion of the five acres from residential to commercial to allow the project to proceed.
The remaining acreage will be resold to property owners, Spinx Vice president Richard Phipps said.
The business is expected in one year to pump 2.5 million gallons of fuel, and a projected $1 million in grocery and another $1 million in restaurant receipts, according to Phipps. He said it will employ 35 to 40 people.
The restaurant will be a KFC type with a deli and ice cream and drive thru and the store will have 4000 sq. ft. of food and grocery type items, he said.
Council unanimously approved the rezoning for the project.
The Mayors office and the Council on Aging and Elderly Affairs will have Medicare spokesperson Robert Sweetman available to answer questions on Medicare D and prescriptions on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Williamston Municipal Center. All area seniors are invited to the free session.
Clardy also announced that the County Municipal Association will meet in Williamston this Thursday Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
Clardy reminded Council of the Christmas Spectacular which includes the Christmas Park, Deck the Halls, Embrace a Child and the Williamston Christmas Parade.
The festivities will begin on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, Nov. 26. The slogan for this year is Keep Christmas Alive. The Christmas parade will be Dec. 10. Town employee Bennie Hyder is coordinating the event.
Clardy also asked for merchants and restaurants to support the activities.
Clardy announced a Veterans Day program will be held at the Williamston Veterans Monument at Middleton Field this Friday, Nov. 11 at 10 a.m.
Williamston Town Council approved Monday an extension on the 2004 Bond Anticipation Note (BAN) with the promise that property on Cherokee Road is about ready to be placed for bids at an auction to be held soon.
Town officials have been anticipating selling the Cherokee Road property since last July when Mayor Phillip Clardy first proposed that it could be sold to provide operating funds for the town which at the time was facing a shortfall.
He later proposed the proceeds could be used to repay a borrowing option he presented to council, the BAN note, which was also eventually approved by council.
Last year, Council members approved spending up to $2,000 for an appraisal on the property which includes 21 acres located on Cherokee Rd.
The appraisal has taken so long because of the need to consider the value of the property and the value of infrastructure improvements already on the property.
Mayor Clardy said Monday that he had recently met with the real estate agent and that the town will soon be ready to offer the property at auction.
Before any real estate can be sold by the town, it will have to be approved by the Council, officials said.
During the Council meeting, Town Attorney Richard Thompson said the BAN is being extended because the property has not sold due to the questions about the infrastructure.
The town borrowed $350,000 on Dec. 30 of 2004 under the BAN provision, which provided revenue to pay outstanding debt the town had accumulated and to pay the towns health and workers compensation insurance premium which was past due at the time.
Under the original BAN terms, the town had the option of extending the BAN, paying it back or issuing a bond for the amount at the end of one year.
At the time, Clardy stated that the sale of the Cherokee Road property owned by the Town will be applied toward repayment of the note.
The ordinance authorizing the BAN extension was unanimously approved by Council Monday.
Although Councilman Cecil Cothran asked about terms for the BAN, none were presented.
Clardy responded to Cothran that the terms are set forth in the ordinance and that the entire ordinance could be read if Council wanted.
Other than stating that the borrowing of funds is to repay a working capital deficit in the towns general fund, there were no terms listed in the ordinace copy provided to The Journal.
The interest rate, bank of issue and payment amount were not included in information provided to The Journal or to Council members.
Clardy said Tuesday that the original BAN was issued through the Regions Bank, Anderson office.
He said that the town has made interest payments on the $350,000 but was not sure of the amount or the interest rate.
He also said that the amount being extended on the BAN will not change and will remain at the original $350,000.
He said that the town is anticipating the sale of the Cherokee Road property to pay back the bond anticipation note.
There was a question as to whether the vote by Council on the ordinance was a first or second reading.
Clardy initially said the reading was second or final reading necessary for the ordinance, but Tuesday said there was some question and at the advice of the bond attorney, a second reading will be held to be sure it is legal.
Clardy said his understanding is that the original budget ordinance allows the town to borrow the money and he said he thought it counted as the first reading. He said that only one additional reading is necessary, however he plans to have a second reading so that there is no question.
Clardy also said that he plans to present the 2006 budget at the December 5 meeting of Council.
Information requested by The Journal under FOI related to trips made by town officials was made available on Thursday, October 27.
Requested were credit card statements and receipts associated with trips made by Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy and other town officials to Washington, D. C. in May 2005 and to Hilton Head in 2005.
Also requested were town credit card statements from January 2005 to July 2005.
In an interview this week, Mayor Clardy said that the purpose of trips to Washington, D. C. in 2004 and 2005 were to attend a National Open Government forum. The trips were hosted by the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce and included many local government officials from area muncipalities and Anderson County, he said.
Pendleton Mayor Carol Burdette, Williamston Councilman David Harvell, Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston and others joined business members of the Anderson Area Chamber on the trip.
Clardy said that Williamston Police Chief Troy Martin attended in 2004 and Captain Kevin Evatt attended in 2005.
In 2005, Councilman David Harvell and family members also participated, however Harvell personally paid expenses for his wife and children to attend.
While in Washington, Clardy said participants attended forums related to issues specific to Anderson County.
Topics included mass transit, Rails to Trails, and grant funding for projects such as the waste water and storm water problems in Williamston.
It is a wonderful opportunity to network with our federal delegates, Clardy said.
Participants met with Senate and Congressional representatives from the area including Sen. Lindsey Graham, Congressmen Jim DeMint, and Gresham Barrett.
Clardy said the meetings offer an opportunity to meet with them on their on turf. It builds a relationship that has been proven through the years to benefit Anderson County, he said.
Clardy said approximately 50 to 60 people from Anderson County usually participate.
The Hilton Head trip in July of 2005 was to the Municipal Association meeting which is held for all elected officials in the State, according to Clardy.
Most of the States mayors, council members and other governmental officials attend, he said.
Forums offer information and discussion on state issues such as tax base, law enforcement, labor law changes, grant writing and more.
There are also ongoing educational classes offered for council and mayors, he said.
The town covered the cost of motels, gas for vehicles and some meals on the trips.
According to the credit card statements provided by the town, the trip to Washington cost the town approximately $1,024.95.
Hotels costs amounted to $377.66; meals, $354.92; gas, $135.45. Meals included a trip to the America restaurant where the bill included a N. Y Strip at $19.99, two T-bones at $39.99 and other items for a total bill with tip of $94.92. There was also a $62 cash advance.
The trip to Hilton Head cost the town three times as much as the Washington trip, with the bill coming in at $3,159.33.
Credit card statements show charges of $2,538.90 for hotel costs, $512.43 in meals and $108 in gas.
Meal receipts show a trip to the Old Oyster Factory, where charges of $185.31 included a filet at $27.99, and to The Crazy Crab, for $156.20.
The Town of Williamston will again host Deck the Halls at the Williamston Municipal Center. Businesses, churches, organizations or individuals interested in displaying a themed decorated Christmas tree in the halls of the Muncipal Center are invited to participate. Trees may be decorated between Monday, Nov. 14 and 6 p.m. Nov. 26.
The event is part of a holiday Open House at the Municipal Center during the month of December. Williamston will also host the Christmas Park during the month of December.
Any business, church, individual or other organization interested in participating in the annual Williamston Christmas Park Celebration should have a display application completed. All displays should be set up by 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26.
An opening night Christmas Spectacular is also planned to kick off the holiday events at 6 p.m. November 26. The event will be held in front of the Muncipal Center and will feature holiday entertainment as well as officially kicking off the opening of the Christmas Park and Deck the Halls events. For more information on any of the Williamston events call (864) 847-7473.
Pelzer voters chose challenger Kenneth E. Davis over incumbent D. Page Henderson, voting 35 to 10 Tuesday for Davis for the office of mayor.
The Town of Pelzer has 65 registered voters, according to the Anderson County Election Commission.
Henderson and Davis faced off in 2003 in a close race that was disputed and eventually decided by one vote.
Davis, 40, is owner of Carolinas Best Lawn Care and Landscaping. He said he would like to see a new skateboard park as well as improvements to the Monkey Park on S. C. 20 and other recreational improvements.
Henderson, 70, is a retired Gerber Childrens Wear manager who has seved as Pelzers mayor since 1995 and as a council member since 1979.
Tonya Scott was the top vote getter as a write-in candidates for council with 13 and will fill a vacant seat. Others receiving votes were Ron Brannan, 9; Kay Beard, 5; Daniel Edens and Randy Woodson, 2 each; and Jackie Vaughn and Dan May, one vote each.
By Stan Welch
Friction continues to exist between Mayor Peggy Paxton and the West Pelzer Town Council. Recent events, including some which may be in contradiction of the mayor/council form of government used by the Town, make that clear.
Recently, a Council member came to Town Hall and asked to see the delinquent tax files. He later publicly approached at least one of those citizens named, and told him he needed to take care of his tax bill, which the property owner did.
Such actions, however, might be a violation of the separation of powers described in the outline of the mayor/council form of government which appears in the Handbook for Municipal Officials in South Carolina, a guide which is published by the S.C. Municipal Association.
The mayor/council form of government is also called the strong mayor form, because the mayor serves as both a member of the legislative body, the Town Council, but also serves as the chief administrator of the councils policies. A review of the Handbook reveals no authorization of individual Council members to serve as debt collectors on behalf of the town.
In fact, the Town is currently in the process of sending out tax notices, including delinquent ones. A notice of delinquent taxes issued by the Town informs the property owner that the taxes are delinquent and threatens a lien against any properties not paid for within 30 days. Actually, Paxton stated that the Town is authorized to sell such properties at public tax sales. It says lien, but we can sell delinquent properties. The reminder is an effective tool. Last year, it resulted in the payment of $7-$8000 in back taxes.
In another instance, a Council member demanded that Police Chief Wilson be on hand at the police station to allow an inventory of the departments equipment and supplies. Mayor Paxton later learned that all the members of council were aware of the request except her. I just dont understand what they are looking for. If I had been informed, I could have helped them. It just seems strange that an inventory is being done now, when were doing so much better on our controls and accountability. Council members Turner and Kelly were around when the accountability problems were so bad, but no one did an inventory then. I just wonder why they think they need one now that our records are actually computerized, and not handwritten.
The inventory was cancelled, partly as a result of concerns over the preservation of the chain of custody related to any evidence being held at the police station at the time.
Mayor Paxton says that she doesnt understand the constant drama that seems to define her dealings with Council members. She does, however, feel that a man would fare differently. I believe 1000% that much of the drama and turmoil that exists wouldnt come about if I were a man. I used to hear women all the time saying that they got treated differently, but Ive lived through it now, and I know what they mean. Im tired of this Council going behind my back.
According to Paxton, one other woman has served as mayor, back in the 1920s. She served about three months and quit because she didnt approve of the carnival being allowed in town.
Paxton says she is puzzled by the continuing tension. Several of these Council members were helpful in getting me elected. I dont know whats changed, but I am doing everything I can as well as I can. I know who is responsible for anything that comes up. Me. SLED could walk in here any day and say they want to see everything we have. Do I sweat it? No, because I know were doing things right and I know how far weve come in the last two years.
Paxton says she would like to see the Town Council, including herself, working together. We dont need all this drama. It has caused me to lose a little bit of focus, but I love this job, and Im going to do it as long as the people want me. I am the Mayor, and thats the way it is. The council doesnt run this show. I dont mean to sound arrogant, or as if they arent important. They are very important. But we have a specific form of government for a reason. Im not going to be treated like the redheaded step child anymore. We could be a great team if we work together, but I am the Mayor.
Test scores on the High School Assessment Program (HSAP) assessment for Anderson School District Ones high schools show Palmetto and Wren far exceeded the aggregate average for the state and among the top four districts in the state.
In English Language Arts, ninety-three percent of district students met the standard, an increase of two percent over last year and higher that the statewide avergage of eighty-six percent.
In Mathematics, eighty-seven percent of Anderson One students met the standard, a one percent decrease from 2004 but still higher that the seventy-six percent of students statewide passing the math section.
Students passing both the English and math sections on their first attempt, a measure often used as a reference by the S. C. State Department of Education when comparing districts, showed eighty-five percent of Anderson One students passing, compared to seventy-two percent passing both sections across the state.
Im very proud of the fine academic job being done in our districts schools as demonstrated by the outstanding results on this very demanding test, said Dr. John Pruitt, Director of Secondary Education for Anderson School District One. Among the keys to success on this test has to be our teachers practice and belief that no matter the subject area, all teachers are teachers of reading and writing. When students know that their ability to communicate effectively and correctly is expected in all courses, there is bound to be improvement on this type of assessment. Pruitt concluded, Our high schools have built on the success of earlier grades and readily demonstrate that a culture of high expectations for student achievement leads to success. Credit for these outstanding results should go to the students, teachers, and administrators of our schools as scores of this quality reflect a true team effort.
The High School Assessment Program (HSAP) is a battery of tests administered to all South Carolina high school students completing their second year in high school.
HSAP assesses the students academic achievement on high school standards in accordance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2002 and fulfills the similar requirement of the South Carolina Education Accountability Act (EAA) of 1998 that each public school student pass an exit examination in order to receive a South Carolina high school diploma. HSAP replaces the Basic Skills Assessment Program (BSAP). Unlike BSAP, HSAP is fundamentally focused on required state curriculum standards and measures far beyond basic skills.
The HSAP is broken down into essentially two portions, English Language Arts and Mathematics. The ELA portion assesses reading, writing, and research skills. The Mathematics portion assesses understanding of numbers and associated operations, algebra, measurement and geometry, data analysis and probability, and problem solving. Students who do not pass one or both sections of the test have the opportunity to take another version of the test in succeeding years prior to their time of graduation.
These excellent results are evidence that our students are meeting and exceeding the rigor of the states high, academically focused standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, stated Dr. Wayne Fowler, Superintendent of Anderson School District One. When high percentages of students pass the exit exam on the first attempt that is a great indication that we can expect higher percentages of students to graduate from high school in a timely fashion.
A new business, Ragsdales Home and Garden, recently opened at 411 East Main St. in Williamston.
The family owned business offers a variety of items for inside and outside the home including handmade furniture, playhouses and gazebos, antiques, collectables and much more.
Co-owner Joan Ragsdale, a Williamston native, has lived in Greenville for 17 years now, but said she has always visited family on weekends. Williamston will always hold a special place in my heart. Now I have another reason to come to Williamston, she said referring to working weekends at Ragsdales Home and Garden to repair and beautify the turn of the century home and sharing a new business with the Williamston Community.
The idea for the business came several years ago as her brother, Rodney Ragsdale, began his deck business on Hwy 29.
I began stopping by on the weekends to help and meet so many nice people. We shared pictures and ideas on garden and home ideas and helped many as they planned for their dreams. As Rodneys business expanded to include garden statuary, landscaping items, gazebos, handcrafted furniture, swings, etc. it allowed me to share my creative side as my brother shared his, she said.
Then 411 East Main became available and I received a phone call from Rodney about my interest. My first response was no - its a money pit. But then I dreamed about the house and felt strangely different about considering it. After that, I prayed that God show me his will, and Rodney, Jeff (my son) and I made an offer. The offer was accepted, so we were left amazed.
What a grand old house and what an opportunity to do something good for the community to keep an old beauty from crumbling. But now what I thought. It was scary, she said.
As an avid collector for many years, Joan said she knew that at some point she would either have to share her treasures or stop collecting.
I never thought Id realize my dream of owning an antique store. However, it was easy to begin filling the house with my treasures.
She said other family members became involved and over just a few short months they filled the property with beautiful handmade furniture, playhouses and gazebos, antiques, collectables Hull, McCoy, milkglass, Fenton, pressed glass and more, too much to mention.
If we could somehow turn this into a business to assist with renovation of the home, this might work, she said. So weve added new home accent items as well as silver and fashion jewelry and cosmetics and made it a family thing.
Joan said the business has been a family meeting place for the Ragsdale family and they have met many people. Weve met so many nice people in Williamston and reacquainted with people we havent seen in years. The two story turn of the century home on East Main has been a blessing, something to turn our attention to , especially since the passing of our mom, Lib Ragsdale, last year. Its a work in process, and a family business which will always offer something new and exciting, in honor of the Ragsdale family name, she said.
Joan said she plans to continue her career as a business Human Resources professional until retirement which is still a few years away.
Ragsdales Home and Garden will be a weekend business for now. It will be open on Saturdays 9-6 and some Sundays from 2-6. They are also available by appointment.
From our family to yours, we hope to bring a little more life and something special to Williamston! she said.
Other family members include Cindy, Julie, Quincy, Donna and Melissa. The business is located at 411 East Main St. at the corner of East Main and Hamilton St., just past Tollys on the Curve Center.
The annual Piedmont Christmas Parade, presented by the Bonnes Amies Club of Piedmont, will be held December 10th at 11:00 a.m. The theme of this years annual event will be Christmas Treasures and the parade will honor area veterans.
The parade is devoted to the honor of the living treasures we have in our veterans, oprganizers said. Piedmont and the surrounding area have offered up sons and daughters throughout our countrys history into the service of the military. So many have served, both in peacetime and in war, and all of our veterans have honored us through that service. So many times we think of our soldiers, but it is difficult to have a time and place to make our appreciation and support known directly to them. The Piedmont Christmas parade will give all of us a chance to honor and support our veterans.
We are indebted to our veterans from World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, and operations such as Desert Storm and all military personnel, active or retired, engaged in wartime or peacetime duties. We are inviting all active and retired members of the armed services to come out on December 10th and allow Piedmont to give you the honor and attention you so richly deserve., an organizer said.
All veterans who attend will be highlighted with an honored position in the parade, folowed by a luncheon at the First Baptist Church Social Hall.
Anyone who would like to see a veteran honored should invite them to come and participate. Veterans should plan to meet at 10:30 a.m. in the parking lot of SunTrust Bank. The vehicles transporting veterans during the parade will be parked in the adjacent grocery store parking lot. For further information about the festivities honoring veterans contact Bonnes Amies Club president Betty White at 845-5543.
The Palmetto Mustang Ladies Cross Country team finished a school best 5th place in Class 1A-2A State Championships held in Columbia on Saturday.
The Lady Mustangs were led by Junior Ashley McClellion with a personal record time of 20:08 and a strong 3rd place individual finish in the 3.1 mile run. Ashley was followed by teammate Freshman Jillana Darby with a time of 20:57 and a 9th place finish.
Both Ashley and Jillana made All-State for the Mustangs for the 2nd time in their career at Palmetto.
Sophomore Carmen Scales had a time of 22:56 for a 38th place finish she was followed by 7th Grader Marlee Rhodes who had a time of 23:38 and a 64th place finish. Sophomore Kelly Hampton finished with a time of 24:57 and a 100th place finish for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs finished fifth out of 23 teams and 160 runners from across the state who ran the Clemson Sandhills Course.
With all the ladies returning next year the outlook is very promising for the team who are coached by Kellie Eaves. Any students interested in competing in boys or girls cross country for 2006 are asked to please let Coach Eaves know. Training will start in the summer of 2006.