News Archive

(4507) Week of Nov. 7, 2007

Powdersville going from precinct zoning to District wide zoning
Local Fire District had problems with Palmetto 800 Motorola system
Powdersville residents ready for zoning
Water bill to be paid, plans being redrawn for streetscape
Doors opening for ballad singer
Is County zoning coming to your area?
PERC to offer free dental services
Deputies investigate vehicle thefts, other incidents
Seems to Me . .  The Class of ’67

Powdersville going from precinct zoning to District wide zoning

By Stan Welch

Questions and explanations concerning the proposed 800MHz communications system dominated the November 6 meeting of Anderson County Council, but there were plenty of other fireworks and shenanigans as well.

For example, in a bit of unorthodox maneuvering, an ordinance was presented that would allow district wide zoning in District Six, rather than using the precinct by precinct method currently in place. The change, which apparently was anticipated by District Six Councilman Ron Wilson, was endorsed at a land use forum last Thursday. (See story elsewhere in this issue.)

Wilson had reserved space on the agenda for an un-named, untitled ordinance to be given first reading approval. That agenda was published on the same day as the meeting held in Powdersville.

According to those who spoke in favor of the ordinance before it was even made known during the meeting, some folks in Powdersville got a scare recently when a home in their neighborhood was slated to be used for a business instead of a residence. They managed to obtain legal counsel and prevent the homeowner from opening the business, but the experience apparently rattled them, and they approached Wilson about zoning.

In addition to the ordinance, which would allow the entire district to be zoned, Wilson, with the assistance of County Attorney Tom Martin, also proposed a resolution which would impose an immediate moratorium on the issuance of building permits in the district.

Chairman Bob Waldrep questioned both the manner in which the matters were handled, as well as questioning the Council’s authority to impose any such moratorium. He asked Martin what authority the Council had.

Martin said the doctrine of an impending ordinance gave the authority. “The ordinance itself actually establishes the moratorium. The resolution simply announces it,” said Martin. “The intent is to maintain the status quo as to the use of the land until Council has completed its legislative work.”

 Both measures passed.

 It was the county’s proposed construction and purchase of an 800MHz radio system that turned out to be the main event, however. During a long and sometimes contentious public hearing, the great majority of the law enforcement and emergency response community continued to support the proposed system.

Fire chiefs and emergency services personnel, along with a line of state officials, came to the microphone to express their desire to finish building the $15 million system.

Anderson County Fire Chief Billy Gibson, Ron Osborne,  State Director of Emergency Management, and George Crouch, Director of the Central Information Office and one of those involved in the 800 Palmetto system since its start, all came forward to support the program.

Williamston Fire Chief Steve Ellison spoke in favor of the system, saying that it is the best system available. Williamston Police Chief David Baker also supported the system, adding that expanding it from the experimental level it is at now would benefit responders across the county.

District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and Council Chairman Bob Waldrep were clearly supportive of the 800 MHz system, while being just as clearly skeptical about this particular proposal. Despite having to remove a presentation on alternative approaches from the agenda when the expert presenter was unable to attend the meeting, Waldrep managed, through questions asked of the various speakers, to ascertain several items of information about the system that had not been revealed in earlier meetings.

Ken Taylor, a resident of Pelzer who is an emergency responder, flatly told the Council that the digital 800MHz radios don’t work inside buildings. “If we have an extra $8.5 million, let’s hire more paid firefighters and double the number of sheriff’s deputies. This system doesn’t work.”

Curtis Bumgardner, a battalion chief for the South Greenville Fire Department, told Council , under questioning from Waldrep, that the SGFD had tried the 800 Palmetto system and found it to be a complete failure.

“They simply could not get the system to work for us. We finally gave them back and got our money back. The bottom line is that you will get somebody killed if you use this system.”

Councilwoman Wilson also evoked some previously unknown information about the 800MHz system. Anderson Police Chief Martin Brown, who supported the system, admitted that his department had taken fifty of their sixty five units out of service due to the high user fees. “We simply can’t afford to pay those fees each month, but the 800 MHz radios are an important part of our overall communications plan.”

According to the plan Council is considering, annual user fees will be approximately a $500,000 dollars. 

Under questioning, several supporters of the system acknowledged the existence of a cache of 800 radios that are available to local jurisdictions in the event of a disaster of grand scale. The existence of those radios also meets the federal requirements to be eligible for FEMA funds, as well as reserving the frequencies currently assigned to Anderson County.

Waldrep also questioned whether emerging technology, like the 700MHz technology, will render the system useless in the near future. 

Crouch, of the state CIO, said that the modern day radios are essentially computers, which can be easily upgraded. Waldrep remained skeptical.

Other previously unreported information about the system is the fact that the radios cannot be dependably used from inside a building to talk to those outside the building. Several responders said that the additional towers that would be built under the current proposal should alleviate that problem. But it was generally conceded that responders would continue to carry two radios, one on the 800 frequency, and the other either a UHF or VHF unit.

Capt. Matthew Littleton, of Emergency Services, staged a radio demonstration to show the 800 MHz radio’s abilities. While impressive, those capabilities do not include the ability to activate or reach responders’ pagers to tone them out for a response. Because of that, ISO (Insurance Service Organization) does not give local fire stations any additional credit for use of the 800 system.

ISO is the organization that rates fire departments and factors those ratings into homeowner’s insurance premiums. 

Chief Billy Gibson reassured Council that current ISO ratings would not be affected, since all departments will continue to use the UHF radios which can be used to tone out firefighters.

In addition to technical and safety concerns, both Wilson and Waldrep had problems with the language of the contract with Motorola, which owns the 800 Palmetto system.

“After reading this contract, I just don’t see how we can obligate the County to this. The vendor appears to avoid any and all liability for any problems with the system,” said Ms. Wilson. “This contract needs to be closely negotiated. You can’t tell me there’s no fat in a contract that requires payment of $8.5 million up front and a half million a year for ten years. On top of that, the language in the contract gives the administrator sole authority in this matter with no further review by Council,” said Waldrep.

The two combined in an effort to table the issue until more study can be done, but their motion was defeated by a vote of 2-4. (Gracie Floyd was absent).

As discussion continued after the failed motion, Waldrep got to the point of his objections. 

“County Council, by the language of this ordinance, has delegated all authority for this to the administrator, without doing anything about meeting its duty and responsibility. That’s my problem more than anything. This Council has fully abdicated its responsibility. I tell you this fellow sitting here (indicating County Administrator Preston) won’t be answerable to the voters when they come to us for answers. If this Council continues on this course of abdication, we don’t have any need for these Council meetings. We can give him (Preston) a blanket approval and stay home and watch these meetings on television.”

Councilman Larry Greer acknowledged that some of the questions raised, especially about the contract language, might be valid. 

“But we cannot delay too long. I am convinced someone from Georgia is trying to get our frequencies. We have something someone wants and we need to keep it.”

 The 800 Palmetto proposal received second reading approval by a vote of 4-2.

Chairman Waldrep and Councilman McAbee engaged in some verbal and parliamentary sparring throughout the night. A proposal to allow either the chairman or vice-chairman to sign Council documents piqued Waldrep’s curiosity.

“When did we change this? Mr. Preston, can you tell me how this change in procedure came about?”

Preston stated that a Council member had requested it, and Waldrep asked, “Would that have been Mr. Thompson, who is vice chairman?” Preston said he didn’t want to answer, but Waldrep pressed him, saying, “That’s okay. Ask your personal lawyer if you should answer that question,” referring to County Attorney Tom Martin. Preston finally answered that it was not Thompson, leading Waldrep to look at McAbee, who was defeated by Waldrep for the Chair of the Council in January, and said, “Now who on this Council would do such a thing?”

The question was somewhat moot, in light of the fact that Councilman Thompson had already signed a budget transmittal letter  which Waldrep had refused to sign. The letter appears in the recently published budget document over Thompson’s signature.

McAbee again drew Waldrep’s ire when he moved to adjourn at the end of the meeting when only Waldrep remained to make his closing remarks. Still, McAbee’s effort failed when Greer cast the tying vote that allowed Waldrep’s closing comments.

County Administrator Joey Preston may have wished the vote had gone the other way. 

After responding to a question from Ms. Wilson just minutes earlier, and assuring her that the County had not bought any memberships in the Chiquola Club for the Council, he watched as Chairman Waldrep pulled a membership card from his pocket.

“This membership was delivered to my office. Its value is $5000. Mr. Preston, I am returning this to you because it is a clear violation of ethics to accept such a gift. “

Preston sputtered that the membership wasn’t for Waldrep personally. “They gave those to the County. You still have to pay your bill at the club.”

 Waldrep was unswayed. “Madame Clerk, I want it on the record that I am returning this membership card to Mr. Preston. “

 The owners of the Chiquola are reported to be seeking concessions on the use of several parking spaces behind the new courthouse, which is right across from the Chiquola. 

Local Fire District had problems with Palmetto 800 Motorola system

By Stan Welch

Even as the momentum builds to approve the purchase and installation of an 800 MHz emergency communications system, questions about the system, its viability, and the necessity for it, continue to arise.

Recent evidence of the questionability of the system and its purchase comes from an authoritative source. A local fire chief spoke with The Journal recently, and raised serious concerns about the validity of the system.

This chief, accompanied by a battalion chief and another staff member, told The Journal that the Palmetto 800 Motorola system, which the county is in the process of purchasing, was so undependable and ineffective that his department demanded and received a refund of their $2.5 million investment in the plan.

“We simply could not use the radios indoors. These units work on a system of repeaters, which pick up a signal and pass it along to the next repeater. The repeaters aren’t strong enough to penetrate the walls of a building. So the phones simply didn’t work inside buildings, which is where firefighters usually are when fighting fire,” said the Chief, who asked that he and his staff not be identified. The Battalion Chief, added “The 800 MHz radios work perfect – until you need them.”

According to records provided by the Chief, his department switched to the 800MHz system in April of 2003. By the end of the month, they had already had enough trouble with the units that representatives of both Motorola and the Palmetto 800 system had been in to try and discover the source of the trouble. “At one time, they actually told us that the leaves on the trees were blocking the signal, which is line of sight. Leaves!”

After months of efforts to upgrade and stabilize the system, and following dozens of incidents where the radios failed to perform, the Chief instructed his department to stop using the 800MHz radios and go back to the UHF radios they had used before. He asked for and received a refund of the $2.5 million the department had spent on the system. Today, four years later, that department still uses the UHF radios, which also use a repeater system, but which are analog radios. “They work fine wherever our firefighters are. It’s just a much better and more dependable system,” said the Chief. “Plus, our guys only have to carry one radio, instead of two. The folks in Anderson County will have to carry two. The digital 800MHz radios will be used to talk between locations, while the others will be used to talk at the same location, such as a fire scene or crime scene.”

The department in question covered 134 square miles. Anderson County contains 750 square miles.

The Chief also offered several interesting insights into other issues that the Motorola and County officials have raised in their efforts to promote the purchase and installation of the system.

For example, it has been often reported that if the County does not employ the 800MHz system, they will be ineligible for federal grants related to emergency and disaster preparedness. It has also been stated that failure to implement the 800MHz system by the deadline set would result in the loss of frequencies that are currently reserved for Anderson County’s use.  

The Chief said that both those claims are untrue, or at least rendered invalid by a simple fact. “There is a truck that is kept in Columbia that contains a large cache of those radios. They are constantly charged and are available to any department or agency in the state within two hours, if they are called for. The Firefighter Mobilization program makes those radios available when that program is activated.  In the event that Anderson had a major disaster, and needed those radios, they would have them within two hours of activating the mobilization plan. The availability of those radios meets all the federal requirements for grants and for frequency protection. Why that information hasn’t been made public is something I can’t understand.”

Another matter that concerns him is the fact that there is currently a legal battle over who will receive domain over the 800MHz frequency. There is currently litigation making its way through the federal courts to determine whether that frequency will go to emergency response or to cellular telephone use. “These folks are selling something they might not even own in six months. What happens if the courts decide in favor of the big communications companies?”

The Chief also told The Journal that Anderson County Fire Department  already has 800MHz capability. “All you need for interoperability is one radio. Why does every single responder in the county need one? All that will do is jam the repeaters so no one can get through. It happens all the time. My suggestion is to have one 800MHz radio in each separate responding entity, like a fire department or EMS station. That allows the command structure to coordinate and to reach other parts of the state if it’s necessary. But to put this radio on the belt of every policeman and EMT and firefighter in the county makes no sense. If fact, without the radios they already have, it makes their jobs more dangerous. And that is unacceptable to me. That’s why I’m speaking out about this.”

The battalion chief agreed, saying that since the attacks on 9/11/2001, there is a system which assigns certain crews to stand by in order to rescue any other firefighters who get into trouble.

“That’s all those crews do. They don’t go in and fight fire unless there are other crews or firemen at risk. So what happens when some guy in a burning building calls for help on a radio that doesn’t work inside a building? If you want a lawsuit, go ahead and sign up for the 800 MHz program. You’ll have one sooner or later.”

Powdersville residents ready for zoning

By Stan Welch

If a public forum held at Wren High School last week to receive input from the public about County planning is any indication, the people from the Powdersville area want zoning and they want it yesterday.

Billed as an Anderson County growth management meeting, the forum attracted about fifty residents, along with Councilman Ron Wilson, who chairs the planning subcommittee appointed by Chairman Bob Waldrep. Also attending was Councilman Michael Thompson and Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, both task force members.

County Planning Director Jeff Ricketson,  along with members of his staff, were on hand as well. 

Ricketson explained the County’s current land use plan, saying that it is designed to provide guidance over the next twenty years. 

“This plan is well thought out and rational. We received a lot of input over the last year or two. But the plan lacks teeth, so the question is how much support there is for really putting some teeth into the plan.”

Ricketson reported that Anderson School District One has experienced almost thirty five percent of the growth that the County has seen in recent years, while Council District Seven has seen approximately thirteen percent of the growth. Those numbers would seem to confirm the generally accepted idea that Council District Six is undergoing tremendous changes and growth.

Ricketson added that, outside the Williamston town limits, School District One has virtually no zoning.

Councilman Ron Wilson, who represents District 6, asked the audience if they wanted zoning in their area or if they wanted to be left alone. 

“I personally want to see some protection in terms of land use and preserving the value of property,” he said.

It was clear that those in attendance agreed. Several wanted to know if they could vote then and there to change the process for establishing zoning in any given area.

“Chop Chop!” said one recent immigrant to the area, drawing widespread laughter. “I just moved here and I’m very concerned about this.”

Ricketson told the audience that approximately eighteen percent of the county is currently zoned. 

“Almost seventy five per cent of the county is in agricultural or low density housing use at this time, with almost seventeen per cent in neighborhood use. Anderson County issues between 1200 and 1400 building permits each year, and is experiencing a steady two per cent annual growth rate over the last decade. The County’s population will approach a quarter million people by the year 2020.”

The method by which zoning is currently established in Anderson County involves the voting precincts. For those in a given precinct to request zoning, fifteen per cent of the registered voters must sign a petition to place the question on a referendum ballot. Once on the ballot, fifty per cent of the voters, plus one, are needed to establish zoning. The referendum is either yes or no as to whether to establish zoning, and the full county council is not bound by the results of that vote.

According to Ricketson, seven years after that method was established, no precinct in the Powdersville area has sought zoning. Honea Path, conversely, sought zoning almost immediately after the process was established.

Those in attendance were clearly eager to streamline the process. Councilman Wilson was clearly prepared to help. He stated that the ordinance establishing zoning by precinct could be amended or altered with three readings and a majority vote.

Whether countywide zoning or district zoning is the goal was likely to be clarified at the November 6 County Council meeting. 

Wilson is on the agenda to present an untitled, unidentified ordinance for first reading. 

Water bill to be paid, plans being redrawn for streetscape

During a three hour meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council decided to pay a water bill and received a very favorable report concerning workers comp and liability insurance.

Council unanimously agreed to approve second and final reading of an ordinance establishing the duties and responsibilities of a town administrator.

Mayor Phillip Clardy said the town needs to have a stated job description and qualifications and should require some formal accreditation of licensing for CPA services for the position.

Councilman Carthel Crout disagreed with the mayor’s assessment, stating that the town already has a certified bookkeeper and the town needs someone who can manage people and establish a relationship with the community.

He said the person should have some accounting training or equivalent work experience.

After additional discussion, they unanimously agreed to have the town attorney research and submit qualifications to Council at either the Nov. 19 or Dec. 3 meeting.

Mayor Clardy reported that invoices and work scope approved for the Downtown Streetscape program have been submitted and that representatives of Dunn & Dunn, Land Art Design and SCDOT engineers have been consulted. He said a revised scope of plans for the Streetscape program will be brought to Council when they are ready.

Council again tabled a 3.4 percent raise for employees after Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. raised concerns that Council had not received monthly financials for October. He also said the question of whether the funds will come from the contingency fund or by reducing other line items in the budget remains unanswered.

“I just don’t see how we can take action if we don’t have any figures,” Middleton said.

The discussion then went to problems with the town’s accounting software.

The town is experiencing problems with billing and other issues with the Smith Data software.

The town paid $35,000 for the software system which was reinstalled in March. The town had previously used the same software but had switched, trying two others before returning to Smith Data.

After discussions of the matter and upon recommendation of the attorneys,  Council eventually agreed to present a letter of intent to cure the problems which will be sent to the Company.

The Big Creek Water Bill was also the topic of lengthy discussion. 

Mayor Clardy explained the town’s position on why the bill had not been paid.

He said that the town had been classified as ignoring or refusing to pay the bill and stated that there is no record the town has refused to pay the bill.

He said the town had asked for supportive documentation for what was billed and that the issue had been a point of discussion between the Town and Big Creek water since 2005.

Clardy said the town paid in excess of $1,000 to have Goldie and Associates determine if the town owed the bill.

“We have not refused, we have not procrastinated,” Clardy said. “All we have asked for is the amount due and supportive documentation.”

Councilman Crout, who was not on council at the time in question, took issue, saying that all he saw in the information presented to him was two letters to Big Creek from the Town.

“Did we gain water? Yes. Do we owe them? Yes.”

Councilman Otis Scott then defended the Town’s position not to pay the bill.

“They couldn’t prove it,” he said, “That we used it. I was not going to spend the taxpayers money until I was sure we owed it.”

Middleton then stated that the meter was turned on, 75,000 gallons went through it and the Anderson Regional Water System bill confirmed that the town had used less water from them during the period.

“It went through a meter into our system.”

Clardy said the issue was a topic of discussion several times in executive session.

“All we have asked, is can you provide analysis for the water loss. We only asked for supportive documentation.”

Clardy said the money to pay the bill was in the town’s budget 2 years ago. “Just send us something other than an invoice. It was the position of council that they prove what we owed.”

“We don’t need to argue over it,” Councilman Crout said. “We just need to pay the bill.”

Clardy then made a motion to conclude the matter by paying the bill and asking Big Creek to pay half of the cost of having Goldie and Associates research it.

Council agreed 4-1 with Councilman David Harvell opposed, to pay the bill amounting to $37,831.50.

After Crout asked why the town had passed the sanitation fee, there was considerable discussion about it including the amount of money that should have been collected since it was instated.

Treasurer Michelle Starnes said there was $220,000 collected through June.

The town paid approximately $108,000 out of that for the new packer.

Clardy said he had asked the town’s CPA to look at the sanitation fee and the impact if it is reduced.

A question of which committee has authority over the  renovation of the Scout Hut was brought before Council by Pamela Owens.

Owens said that the Historic Commission was charged with the task and had made improvements including a new floor and plans for repair of the walls and roof.

The issue of whether to put a burgundy or green roof on the structure arose after the Park Committee Chairman Dale Martin told council that the committee wanted to place a green roof on the hut.

Owens maintained that her organization had decided to have a burgundy roof on it.

She stated that the project was separate from the Park Committee which was organized this year to oversee repairs and improvements in the park.

Clardy said that the final recommendations would come before Council and that the Park Committee had recommended a green roof and that council had voted on it.

The discussion also led to discussion about a PARD grant which the town is expected to be receiving soon.

Clardy said it will be up to the town council to govern how to dispense the funds. The allotment is $180,000.

After additional discussion it was decided to look over the minutes as to the responsibilities of each organization.

The discussion over the color of the roof was tabled to the next meeting.

Safety and Risk Management Coordinator David Rogers reported that the insurance audit and report cards for the town workers comp and liability insurance had a score of 100 and saved the town $31,800.

He said it was the result of a proactive safety program, support of the town employees and council.

He said when he took over the safety and insurance program in 1999,  the town’s score was in the teens.

In 2000 it rose above 35 to 50 then into the 70s and in 2007 was 100 on both.

“It was a long hard road,” Rogers said. “It has been a challenge.”

One recommendation of the Municipal Associatin was for the town to have specific breakouts for each department, he said.

After a five minute break, council took up discussion of the Town’s yard sale ordinance.

The town’s current ordinance was put in place in 1999. It restricts yard sales to four per year and puts other restrictions on the property owner.

The new ordinance requires that the license be paid during regular town office hours.

There was brief discussion about the rental fees for town hall. No action was taken.

Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of a hospitality tax to be enacted by the County on unincorporated areas of the county. Funds received will go toward county wide recreation to help municipalities provide recreation services, according to Clardy.

Councilman Crout asked that Council receive a courtesy notice when a town employee is hired or fired.

One bid was opened for demolition of a house on Roberts Blvd. The bid did not include costs for permits or hazardous waste removal. There was no action taken on the matter.

Council then went into executive session to discuss a contractural matter though it was not stated what the contract pertained to.

Several residents asked questions during public comments, but were told to talk with the mayor individually for their answers. 

Pamela Owens asked about the status of the Gray Drive bridge and installation of lights in the park.

A representative of the Amercan Legion asked for and received permission for use of a conference room in the Municipal Center for a Jail-a-thon type fundraiser to be held Nov. 17.

Kenneth Bearden asked about the status of lights in the park on the Gossett St. side of the park area and the museum.

Allen Ashley said that the Sons of Confederate Veterans had received permission to take the town cannon to the 145th battle reenactment of the battle of Gettysburg and said his organization had persons who were qualified and trained for operating and firing the cannon.

Willie Wright asked about traffic lights at the schools and a tree that was left overhanging the road on Market St. after a tree services company had been there.

Doors opening for local singer

He is known as the man of many ballads. He can travel out of town and have people recognize him, yet hardly anyone in Williamston or Belton knows him. If you heard him sing, you might think it was Marty Robbins. His name is Joseph E. Greco.

If the name sounds familiar, it is probably because he has performed at several area benefits and at the Spring Water Festival.

Or maybe you’ve heard him on one of 2100 Christian Country Radio stations across the country.

Greco is a one man Christian Country Gospel music ministry show. He has been told, repeatedly, that he sounds like Jim Reeves or Marty Robbins.

“I think I have my own sound,” Greco said. “The style is similar.”

He plays some guitar, but primarily sings and writes songs with the help of his keyboard.

Greco and his wife Dianne have resided in Cheddar for 12 years.

They ran an outreach ministry in a storefront for the homeless for five years, Greco said, until the Lord told him he was opening new doors for his ministry and gave him the ability to write Gospel songs.

Since then he has written a number of songs helping other ministries and only recently began doing his own recordings. In less than 2 years, he has put together or produced 9 CDs.

His CDs are full gospel, country/gospel mix and he puts the Bible verse John 3:16 on every  CD. “It is a great way to witness.”

Some of the songs are remakes of his favorites and many are his own.

What started as a part time ministry has become much bigger.

A song he wrote and sings, “Call on Jesus”, is doing well on radio stations across the nation. 

The single debuted at # 83 on the Christian Country Top 100 list, an unheard event for an unknown artist, according to his manager and others in the Gospel music business.

“It is impossible to debut on the top 100 to 150,” Greco said. “It is very unusual. Usually if someone does, it is a remake by an unknown artist.”

Greco said the recent success of his song and other events in his life are  happening for a reason.

“I believe God is the answer to everything. There is no other explanation for why this is happening. God is involved.”

Greco said the song is a  Country Gospel Beach music mix and is about everyday life.  

“It is about doing your normal thing. You can’t do it without the Lord. You can do it your way and have some success or do it with God and guarantee it.”

Greco said there are four reasons he believes his music is doing so well and touching people’s lives.

First he said is God; then the support and encouragement of his wife Dianne; the support of the people and radio stations playing his songs.

There are 2100 Country Christian radio stations and 90 percent of them are playing the song with medium to heavy rotation and 17 of those are playing it on heavy rotation.

In addition to the success of “Call on Jesus,” Greco recently found out he has been included on a  Christian Country compilation disc featuring 15 artists which is being released for the holidays.

Most are well known Gospel and Christian Country singers. Also on the disc are two well known country artists, Randy Travis and Diamond Rio.

Greco’s song on the CD is one he wrote and sings entitled  “It’s Christmas time.” 

He said it is getting attention because it is a “newly written Christmas song.”

“It is hard to find a good new Christmas song. Most are remakes.”

According to Greco, it reflects values, encouragement and memories of a Christmas past.

“It looks back at how Christ was and how you want it to be.”

Originally from New Jersey, he comes from a family of music. His mother was a professional singer who had eight children. He has a brother and a sister who also sing country music and he said he plans to record a duet with his sister.

Greco said he often does remakes as a trip down memory lane but it is the songs he has written and sings that really touch people.

“Songs I have written have affected many people,” he said.

He travels to flea markets, fairs and festivals throughout the South where he reaches those people with his ministry.

“When God opens the door, I go.”

And the doors continue to open for Greco.

At the flea markets and fairs people hear him and they buy  CDs. “They take them home where others hear them.”

He said one lady came from California to visit her daughter and still traveled more than 100 miles to hear him sing.

“I believe in loving people and praying for people,” he said. “I love the Lord and they see the Lord in me. And I want to win souls for the Lord.”

“There are people there who sing better than me, who may sell only one or two CDs. We might sell 25 or 30.”

He said he has Spanish and Chinese speaking people buying the CDs.  “People who can’t speak English,” he said. “There is no logical explanation.”

“We may not know where the road leads, but we know Jesus is in the drivers seat.”

Last week they were in Nashville at the Christian County Music Convention. They attended  seminars and meetings with recording and radio personalities.

He has been offered jobs as a Legends performer as Marty Robbins at Pigeon Forge and Myrtle Beach, but so far has declined.

“I don’t want to be in front,” he said. “I want God to be in control.” He said he never wanted to be a star.

While on the road or in public he often hears things like “That boy can sing “ or “He’s going to be a star.”

“God gives everybody a gift,” Greco said. 

“I’m no different from the people I see when I travel, there next to me, who can’t carry a tune. 

I’m just doing what God tells to me.”

The exposure he has been getting and the contacts seem to fall in place. 

He was recently written up in an industry publication called Power Source Magazine.

Another door opened when he was supposed to appear on two TV channels in Georgia and due to a technical mistake, wound up appearing on eight different channels.

“We never once went looking for them, they came to us,” he said.

“I’m one of the lucky ones. It is up to God as to how far I go and as far as I’m to carry others.”

With the added exposure, situations that have come up on the road have been surprising and others take getting used to. 

While visiting a restaurant, a man from Pickens told him, “Stop holding up that door and start singing.” The man had seen him at a local flea market.

Another man pointed his finger at him during a show at a flea market. Soon after Joe was asked to sing at an anniversary party and it turned out to be for the man.

Another was two women in Chesnee asking for his autograph. “There is only one celebrity,” he said he told them. “That is Jesus.”

“God is moving me up the ladder,” he said. “In one year this song is on the radio and I’m getting these offers. Every step I’m very carefully looking at what I do.”

 “He keeps putting people in our path.” Greco said, “Contacts.”

But there are obstacles.

“We have met some jealous people along the way,” he said. His response to them,  “We really care and I like your music.”

He said he sings songs he feels and that are simple. Songs that people can relate to. “I think if you feel it, people will feel it.”

Appearing at a festival in Abbeville, they sold 150 CDs in about 20 minutes. At the show, one man was saved.

“That man getting saved meant more to me,” Greco said. 

And it is surprising how music or a voice can touch lives.

He met a child, a cancer patient, in Hospice who knew his songs. Joe went to visit him in Hospice and spent time with him just before he died.

If you would like to see Joseph E. Greco live, he will be appearing Nov. 7 at the Upstate Senior Expo at the Anderson Civic Center. He is appearing at a benefit for Hospice at Bi-Lo on Hwy. 81 in Anderson on Nov. 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Nov. 10 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. He is also singing at the Monkey Park in Pelzer on Nov. 10 from 2 to 3 p.m..

He will be doing a Thanksgiving program for Williamston Seniors on Nov. 23 at 9:30 a.m.

Now is the time to buy Joseph E. Greco CDs. Greco said people can purchase his CDs directly from him for only $5 a piece. Before long they may have to buy them in a store.

For more information including a list of CDs and catalog of songs go online to josephegreco.com. 

Is County zoning coming to your area?

Do you want to save trees, protect open space, or maybe better traffic management. How about fees for storm water management,  or zoning and land use for your community, or even guidelilnes for community appearance.

These specific issues and others will be the topics discussed in a planning meeting being conducted by the Anderson County Planning Division this Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. at Palmetto High School. A final meeting will be held Nov. 15 at the Main Library in Anderson.

Persons wishing to comment on the management of future growth and development in Anderson County are invited to attend.

The meeting is open to the public and constructive comments are welcome. All residents are encouraged to participate.

Anderson County Planning officials have scheduled similar meetings across the County to discuss future development and the implementation of the County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. One was held in the Wren Community last week. (See story this issue)

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.

PERC to offer free dental services

The Piedmont Emergency Relief Center (PERC) will host the Free Mobile Dental Unit on Thursday, November 15 from 2 p.m. to 7p.m.  The PERC office is located in the Piedmont Community Building. 

The dental services provided are free to anyone.  There are no qualifications to receive the services.  Adults and children are both welcome.  Children must be accompanied by parents. 

Dental services will be provided by Greenville Technical College’s Dental Science Programs’ faculty and students. 

Services offered will include Dental Health Education, Tooth Brushing Instruction, Cleanings, Fluoride Treatments, Fluoride Varnish, Radiographs (if needed) and Sealants (if needed).

PERC is a faith-based non profit organization serving the needy in zip codes 29673, Piedmont; 29669, Pelzer; 29697, Williamston and 29611, Greenville. 

A Strong Communities partner, PERC strives to end childhood neglect and abuse by removing stressors on families.  PERC provides emergency food services, food stamp outreach, is an Angel Food Ministries host site, provides information and referral services.  PERC refers clients to agencies to assist with rent and utilities; job training; free and low cost medical care/prescriptions, and much more.

The St. Francis Mobile Dental Unit operates in partnership with Greenville Technical College, New Horizon Family Health Services, Inc., and United Way of Greenville County. 

Deputies investigate vehicle thefts, other incidents

BELTON

Oct.30 – C.L. Nimmons was dispatched to 3336 Hwy. 29 N, where Howard Addis, pastor of Union Grove UMC, reported the theft of the copper and compressor from an air conditioning unit. The loss was estimated at $8000.

Nov. 2 – B.K. Baxter responded to 500 Browning Rd. where David Graddy, of Williamston, reported that he had a 1972 Ford station wagon in some woods on the property and someone took it to a Greenville scrap yard. While on the scene, Baxter saw two men approach in a truck. He spoke with them and learned they had taken the station wagon, but they claimed they bought it from a Tommy Gaddy. Sidney Townsend, WM, 47, 5’7", 190 pounds, brn/blue, of Belton, and Ricky Mattison, WM, 48, 5’9", 155 pounds, brn/brn,of Honea Path, were both arrested and transported to ACDC after giving written statements.

Nov. 3 - T. B. Dugan was dispatched to 1711 Cheddar Rd., Lot 9 where Stephanie Domingue reported that her boyfriend, Allen George and Shawn Conard were arguing and she stepped in to break them up. She said that is when Teresa Conard came and attacked her, punching her in the face and pulling her hair. Dugan did observe her to have a bloody nose and a bump on the forehead. Conard said Domingue charged her and she pushed her away. All parties were put on trespass notice.

Nov. 3 – P.D. Marter responded to the Jockey Lot where Broadus Beckwith, of Abbeville, reported that Jessica Gonce , WF, 26, 5’6", 140 pounds, brn/blue had taken one of his Chihuahas and fled with it. They had been in a previous altercation in Abbeville and she was mad at him, according to the report. She was arrested for dog stealing and transported to ACDC.

 Nov. 4 – B. K. Baxter responded to the Jockey Lot where Nancy Ashley reported that her car had been stolen while she was inside. The report contained no description of the car, or a tag number.

PELZER

Oct. 30 – P.D. Marter responded to Tabernacle Baptist Church at 519 Anderson St. where Gail Burgess reported that someone had broken a glass out of the church side entrance while she was at lunch. Marter found no one inside and nothing taken.

Nov. 4 – B. K. Baxter was dispatched to 109 Lesley Dr. where Jeffrey Boerger reported the theft of copper pipe and wire worth $4000.

PIEDMONT

Oct. 31 – M. Voigt  responded to 7 Sunny Lane where Jessie Carney reported the theft of approximately 200 pounds of scrap copper valued at $350 and a TV valued at $200.

Oct. 31 – J.T. Bowers was dispatched to 10 Anderson St. where Sabrina Roberts stated that her daughter’s van had been vandalized with damage estimated at $400.

Nov. 3 – K. D. Pigman was dispatched to 2206 River Rd., Lot 1 where Heather Hogan reported that William McDonald, WM, 66,5’8", 200 pounds, gray/blue had been in an argument when he allegedly threatened to shoot her and a friend of hers. He later began shooting a handgun into the woods behind his house, according to Hogan. Deputy Pigman and Deputy T.B. Dugan went to McDonald’s house where he answered the door with a nine millimeter handgun in his hand. He put it down when told to and said he never fired it at all. A records check found him to be a convicted felon prohibited from possessing a firearm. He was arrested and transported to ACDC.

Nov. 3 – P. D. Marter responded to an area of I-85 near the 34 mile marker, where Ashlee Williams, WF, 56, 5’10", 155 pounds, blond/hazel, of Anderson, had stopped and detained a motorist from Maryland for nearly a half hour. The motorist said that she had pulled him over and never came to the vehicle he was driving. He said he was afraid to drive off. He was released after it was determined he had violated no laws. Williams had called 911 to report an unlicensed vehicle. She was driving a dark green pickup with markings very similar to many used by environmental control officers in the Upstate. Marter’s report said except for no blue lights, it had all the appearances of a law enforcement vehicle. She was also wearing a security guard’s uniform. Marter informed her he would be seeking a warrant for her for impersonating a police officer.

Nov. 4 – M.A. Whitfield responded to 210 Shiloh Church Rd. where Ronald Pingley reported the theft of his truck by his son William Pingley, WM, 17, 5’10", 150 pounds, brn/blue.

Nov. 4 – M.A. Whitfield responded to 825 Joe Black Rd. Lot 61, where he located a runaway juvenile from Laurens County and returned the boy to his father.

WILLIAMSTON

Oct. 31 – J.T. Bowers was dispatched to 108 Twenty Nine Court where John Lewis reported that someone had stolen his company truck, which belongs to Carolina Millwork, Ltd. The loss was estimated at $8000. It was a red 1997 Dodge Ram pickup, SC tag #710 CRR.

Nov. 2 – K.D. Pigman met with Shelly Seabrook, of Easley, who stated that she had been assaulted. The assault was near Campbell Road.

Nov. 2 - M.A. Whitfield received a report from Kenneth Dunlap, of Ken’s Used Appliances that he had loaned his truck to Eric Null the day before. Null had come to him and reported it stolen the next day. He said it ran out of gas and he left it on Steam Plant Road. When he returned the next morning, it was gone. Loss was estimated at $2,500.

Nov. 3 – T.B. Dugan responded to 121 Kirsch Dr. where Christian Garcia reported that his brother Leodaldo Garcia had attacked him with a kitchen knife. Following an argument, Leodaldo chased his brother from the house with a large kitchen knife, according to the report. He was placed on trespass notice from the residence and was driven home to Greenville. No charges were filed since the attempt was unsuccessful.

Seems to Me . . . The Class of ’67

By Stan Welch

What a weekend I had this past weekend! Not one, but two reunions! St. Andrew’s High School held the fortieth reunion of the Class of 1967, an The Citadel held the 35th Reunion of the Class of 1972. Both were in Charleston, and so was I.

Now, you math majors out there have probably noticed that there is a five year gap between those dates, rather than four years. Let me explain. I was supposed to graduate from St. Andrew’s in 1967. But I worked on the student newspaper at the school, and one day, I was hurrying to distribute the papers to another building. As I ran down a short flight of steps to an exit door, I put my left hand up to push the door open and it slipped off the metal frame and crashed through what was supposedly safety glass.

Four hundred and some odd stitches and some pretty major surgery later, it was pretty clear I wasn’t going to pass my typing course, or get the credit I needed to graduate on time. So I actually graduated in 1968. But the Class of ’67 was always my true class, where my heart was. Saturday night, I was reminded why.

First off, we had more than a hundred classmates show up for the reunion, which is a great turnout for a bunch of folks who had scattered pretty well over the intervening years. You know how every high school class had a couple of girls who were always running the show and telling everybody what to do? Well, those girls from our class were in charge of the reunion, and they did a great job of rounding us up. I love you, ladies. You know who you are, and so do we.

I saw guys there who I played ball with and against, and I saw cheerleaders I never had a shot with. Some folks had scarcely changed, while others could have walked by me on any street in America without drawing a glance of recognition.

There were businessmen and retired military and teachers and lawyers and one newspaper reporter. There were mothers and fathers and grandparents, widowers, widows and divorcees. I think there were a few gay folks in the crowd, but no one asked, no one told, and no one cared. There were good looking women and dignified looking men, and none of them let it get in the way of having a good time.

Our class, like any graduating class in the late ‘60’s had been through a lot together. In fact, we went through more together than we realized at the time. Integration and drugs both started showing up in the schools while we were there. We handled integration very well at our school, and to the best of my knowledge, cheap wine, beer and cigarettes were about as bad as the drug situation got, at least until I graduated.

We watched as classmates and those who graduated before us went off to Viet Nam, a place none of us had ever heard of when we were in junior high. Some of those who got home were there Saturday night: some, like Bill ‘Bull’ Durham, who was one of the funniest and craziest people I ever knew, didn’t get home. They were still there Saturday night.

There was a simple photographic memorial to others we have lost in the last four decades, friends and acquaintances, classmates and vaguely remembered faces.

We’ve all been through a good deal since then. No matter how well planned or tranquil the trip, forty years of life is going to leave a few marks. But our class always had a certain joie de vivre, a certain taste for a good time that seems to have survived. There were people dancing that night whose knees are probably still screaming at them. I know mine are.

But there was one dance that made the whole evening worthwhile. A classmate named Marty had the bad fortune more than thirty years ago of falling out of a tree and suffering paralysis from the waist down. What the hell he was doing in a tree at that age I don’t know. I didn’t ask him. But he still had the same wry grin and dry wit that I remembered from high school. That wry sense of humor and perspective made Marty something of a barometer for the class. He always seemed to have a sense of what was really going on. I detected not a single jot of pity or anger at his situation, although I’m sure he’s been through his own moments.

 Anyway, this is where the two reunions crossed paths for me in a strange sort of way. Any Citadel graduate knows what the dying cockroach is. Senator Billy O’Dell knows what it is. U.S. Congressman Gresham Barrett knows what it is. They may be granted the dignity of their office and allowed to deny having ever done the dance. But they know what it is.

It is a dance done, usually in a well lubricated state, where the dancers lie on their backs on the floor and point arms and legs at the sky, and twitch around like, well, a dying cockroach. I learned it at The Citadel and believe that is where it originated, just as the shag began on the piers and beach bar floors of South Carolina. By the way, there were some pretty darn good shaggers there Saturday night, too.

Anyway, the dying cockroach is a dance that truly levels the playing field. There is no better dance for stripping the dignity from each and every dancer who performs it. Saturday night, that changed.

Saturday night, as he had done four years earlier, I’m told, Marty wanted to dance the cockroach, because it is the one dance he can do. And as we used to say back in the day, clear the floor folks! The man came to dance!

So bam, there he is, on the floor doing a world class cockroach, when suddenly, three or four more are down there with him. Soon I was down there with him. I would guess eight or ten of us danced with Marty. It wasn’t a pretty sight – it was a beautiful one. Once again, Marty provided the sense of what was really going on – a reunion, of friends and classmates who have all fallen from one tree or another since last we were together.

Once we were all back up, and laughing at ourselves, I mentioned to one of the ladies that she was lucky she was wearing slacks. “It’s not luck,” she laughed. “Last time I was wearing a dress and I was ready for him this year.”

Folks, seems to me that’s class. In fact, that’s the Class of 1967. Party on.

 

 

 

 

 

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