Week of Nov. 12
election protests to result in new election
The Town of Pelzer will hold a completely new election according to decisions made in two separate hearings last week after protests were made about the election held on November 4.
Unofficial election results showed that political newcomer Kenneth Davis received 19 votes while incumbent Page Henderson received 18 votes for the office of mayor. Council results showed that incumbents Betty Edens and Steve McGregor along with Tony Riddle and write-in candidate Sandra Ragsdale received the most votes for the four council seats available.
Election Commission Chairman Duncan Adams presided over the two hearings in which Henderson and five citizens formally protested the election.
In a two-hour hearing held Friday morning at the Pelzer Community Building, Henderson represented by Attorney Rame Campbell protested the election for mayor on the grounds that two individuals who lived outside the corporate town limits were allowed to cast ballots in the election.
Davis assisted by Sammie Barnett referenced the South Carolina Code of Laws (Section 7-13-810) which states that all challenges must be made before a ballot is deposited in the ballot box. Barnett also noted that the two individuals in question were listed on the voter list provided for the election.
Municipal Clerk Skip Watkins testified to a meeting held November 3 with Adams and Patsy Brown, Director of Anderson County Registration and Elections, in preparation for the election. Using a map of the town, Watkins said that the two individuals who were allowed to vote were discussed at that meeting as not being residents of the corporate town along with other issues about voter eligibility.
Adams testified that he was not on site when the two individuals in question were allowed to vote in the election. Since their names were printed on the voter list, poll workers allowed them to vote. If I had been here, I probably would have called to check, Adams said.
In closing arguments, Campbell on behalf of Henderson requested that the election be overturned due to irregularities which rendered doubtful results.
With the assistance of Town Attorney Jimmy King, Adams ruled that a new election would be held at a date to be announced later. Due to all the irregularities and some hard feelings, I guess there will have to be a new election, Adams said.
A second hearing was held Monday morning to hear protests regarding the election for town council. Harriet Kay Beard, John William Beard, Sammie Barnett, Tony Riddle and his wife Ricki all filed formal protests to the election.
Barnett and the Beards were not able to be present at the hearing. Tony and Ricki Riddle were present at the hearing to present their concerns.
Referencing a ballot, Tony Riddle explained the confusion over the instructions on the ballot. He also questioned ballots which had more than one write-in candidate which were reportedly not counted. The Riddles requested that a new election be held with a ballot with clearer instructions to voters.
Adams ruled that a new election would also be held for the town council to be announced at a later date after coordination with the Anderson County Registration and Elections office .
Many Anderson County taxpayers may be looking carefully at their tax notices as a result of the Anderson County Councils decision to reopen the budget process as well as provide an additional time period for citizens to appeal their property values due to this years reassessment.
Taxpayers who wish to appeal their reassessments must do so based solely on the fact that they feel the fair market value of the property is incorrect.
Anderson County Council has held two readings on the ordinance extending the reassessment appeal process and will hold the third reading at their meeting November 18 which should make the decision official.
Although appeals cannot be based on the amount of taxes due, taxpayers should have a clear understanding of how their tax bill is calculated by analyzing their tax notices carefully.
The assessed value of a property is shown on the tax notice under the section marked market value at the top of the form. Market value multiplied by roughly 4% for residential properties equals the total assessment on the property which is also shown at the top of the form.
Taxpayers in School District One will notice that they then fall into one of twelve different tax districts. Depending on the particular tax district within School District One, tax levies vary from a low of .2421 in Williamston to a high of .3231 in Piedmont.
All taxpayers in School District One pay a total of .1671 in education levies which include: .1057 for school operations set by the Anderson County Board of Education; .025 for bond debt set by the county auditor; .0176 for the county school board set by the county legislative delegation; .015 for the Career & Technology Center; .0038 for Tri County Tec set by the Anderson County Council.
District One taxpayers also pay a levy of .075 for county operations which is set by the Anderson County Council which includes such items as the library, county EMS, and the Sheriffs Department to equal a total base levy of .2421.
Depending on the tax district within School District One, the base levy may have other levies added to achieve the total levy. These additional levies may include: .003 for the county sewer system; .006 for a fire levy to fund county volunteer fire departments; .081 or .0084 for public service districts; .0010 or .0011 or .0034 for watershed conservation.
The formula for calculating taxes then becomes the total assessment multiplied by the tax levy equals the base tax amount. A $40 solid waste fee or other fees may be added to the base tax amount.
A residential state property tax relief levy for School District One equals .0863 on the first $100,000 of fair market value which is multiplied by the total assessment and subtracted from the base tax amount.
Some senior taxpayers may also benefit from a homestead exemption on the first $50,000 of fair market value from the base tax amount.
The base tax amount with additional fees and minus tax relief or homestead exemptions equals the amount of taxes due.
In the midst of the political storm over taxes, the bottom line appears to be that taxpayers are seeing an increase in their taxes for two reasons. An overall 22.5% increase in market value due to reassessment which is mandated every five years by the state amounts to an increase in taxes.
In addition, tax millages which were not rolled back to counteract the increase in market value due to reassessment in effect resulted in what some are calling a windfall to taxing entities. Anderson County Council voted May 20 in a special meeting not to roll back millage and take advantage of the reassessment.
Reacting to negative response from taxpayers, Anderson County Council entered uncharted territory in their meeting November 4 as they voted to reopen the current budget.
County Council member Larry Greer proposed a resolution directing the county administrator to review the current $88 million budget in an effort to reduce the revenue needed to support it by 10%. According to Greer, the 10% reduction would equal about $2.4 million and would allow the county to return to the rollback millage level.
The council supported Greers resolution although County Administrator Joey Preston stated that critical services could be affected by such a move.
West Pelzer officials named a new police chief at their regular council meeting Tuesday night following the resignation of Andy Smith on November 3.
Mayor Peggy Paxton announced that Mark Patterson who had been serving as interim chief had been named the new chief Tuesday. Patterson worked with the Anderson County Sheriffs Department before coming to work with West Pelzer in 1992. Paxton announced that the town will now be accepting applications for a police officer.
In other business, Paxton announced that the town would not be able to provide pickup for limbs and leaves at this time without raising taxes. We have bigger fish to fry right now, Paxton commented and added that the council would work on a plan to handle leaves and limbs.
Adhering to requirements from the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Paxton conducted the first reading of a drought response ordinance. The ordinance established a plan to manage water demand during drought-related shortages and received unanimous council approval.
Paxton reported that the water department is continuing to work on water pressure problems at a house on Main Street and from Holliday Street past the fire department. Paxton advised that the town will seek a community development block grant through Rusty Burns to assist in the effort.
Paxton expressed frustration over the water problems and that citizens are being penalized because they live inside the town. According to Joey Preston if we were in the county, this would have already been taken care of, Paxton said.
During the time for citizen comments, one citizen requested that the town consider adding In God We Trust to the signs that will be placed at each end of the town.
Another citizen announced that the Masonic Lodge will hold a BBQ November 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help 19 needy families in the area. Paxton added that citizens could also bring canned goods to the Town Hall which could be distributed to families in need.
Paxton brought up the need for citizen involvement and the idea of block captains who would volunteer to maintain contact with citizens in a particular area. This led to a discussion about the possibility of a Neighborhood Watch program for the town.
Paxton emphasized that citizens would be very surprised at the amount of crime in the town.
Patterson said that the town is working on getting help from state constables.
We are going to get to the bottom of the drug issue, Paxton added.
Paxton also reminded citizens of the benefits to the town of an agreement with the Town of Pelzer to provide their police protection for $17,000 a year. Details of that agreement are still to be worked out between the two towns.
By Stephanie Summerlin
It will be consulting and roses for Dr. Reggie Christopher come this July, as the longtime educator and school superintendent will retire after 40 years.
Christopher announced his retirement at the Oct. 28 Anderson School District One Board of Trustees meeting, but he admits he doesnt agree with the terminology behind it.
I dont like the word retirement, he says. I think I still have a lot to offer. Military officers dont retire in the midst of battle. And I feel like were in a battle to save our young people. I want to continue to be a part of that.
When hes not tending to his rose garden after he wraps his career with District One, Christopher will be operating his own consulting firm aimed at teaching leadership and advocating public education.
I want to work for school districts in any way I can, he says. I could be a lobbyist very easily. Ive been the chairman for SCSBA for six years, and I know all the inroads in the legislative process. I want to do seminars and workshops on leadership, and I want to offer my expertise to school districts in the budgetary process and building programs.
Christopher says the educational arena is a different world than what he stepped into in the early 1960s.
Kids come to school with so many different problems now, Christopher says. In many cases, we have to be their mama and daddy. School is the only safe place some of them have. Youve got to love children and be concerned about them not only in terms of teaching them to read and write, but also for their well-being.
Change, he says, has not only come socially, but technologically. The changes that have been made in technology have just been phenomenal, Christopher says. One of the problems we have in public education is that we dont keep up with changes as fast as this world changes. Were always in a catch-up position. Financial limitations have a lot to do with it. I dont think our problems can be solved by throwing money at it, but I think we need more resources.
That has been especially trying in the last two years, Christopher believes, in light of $3 million in educational funding cuts from the state. He says one thing hes most proud of is District Ones ability to overcome the budget shortfalls, yet argues that public education is suffering under the continued fiscal slashes.
We need more quality people in the teaching profession, he says. We have not paid our teachers enough to attract those quality people. Weve been fortunate in that we have it a little better than some of the other districts in the state and can pay our teachers more. Thats by design, because we care about them. The general public does not know what teachers do on a daily basis. They are a dedicated group of people.
A long career certainly lends itself to some memorable moments. Christopher says some of the most indelible events came in the wake of failure.
One thing that stands out in my mind is something that did not go my way, and that was the referendum in 1994 to build Powdersville High School, he says. That failed, and I learned a lot from that. It was a valuable part of my learning experience because I took it too personally. I was later able to step back and say that the community just didnt want that.
No failures are the districts academic and building programs, Christopher says. We have made great strides in academics, he says. When I came in as superintendent, we had a good district. Now we have an excellent district. Weve also built four new schools (Hunt Meadows, Cedar Grove, and Powdersville elementary schools and Powdersville Middle) and renovated every other school. Its a struggle to keep up, especially with the limited amount of money. Ive been able to do that with our board for $45 million.
Christopher says much of his success lies in his teachers, principals and staff. Im pleased with the growth weve made professionally the teachers and administrators weve been able to attract and keep, he says. The success of a leader depends on the people he surrounds himself with, and Ive surrounded myself with some good people.
One of those people will take the baton from their boss in July. Dr. Wayne Fowler, currently the assistant superintendent for instruction, was named Christophers successor Oct. 28.
Wayne Fowler and I have had a good relationship for a number of years, Christopher says of the future superintendent, who has more than 30 years experience in education in his own right. We served as principals together. He went into some difficult situations as principal at Cedar Grove, Pelzer and Spearman, and hes always been very successful. Hes done a great job with the instructional program in this district. The transition is going to be smooth. His philosophy and mine are the same.
Christopher also speaks highly of the school board hes served over the years. My board has just been fantastic, he says. They are a model for other boards. We dont agree on everything, and thats fine.
He says there have been many times when the boards decision, differing from his, turned out to be the right one in the end.
Ive tried to close Pelzer (Elementary) twice, Christopher says. During the last attempt prior to the board meeting, I had a 5-2 vote to close. By the actual vote, it was 5-2 to keep it open. Now Im glad it happened like that. We now need the classroom space. I came to the realization that my responsibility as superintendent was to make the best recommendation given the information I have. Once I did that, if they voted yes, fine, or if they voted no, fine.
With Fowler soon taking the reins, Christopher says his successor will quickly realize its sometimes lonely at the top.
You get pressure from all around you, he says. You want to get the resources you need for the schools, but you have limitations in the amount of money youve got. Sometimes you feel like youre on the edge of a cliff holding on with your fingernails. My advice to Mr. Fowler is that he needs to realize that will happen. Im very close to Mr. Fowler and Mr. (David) Havird (assistant superintendent), but sometimes its just me alone.
Christopher says that while hell soon leave the daily grind, he has no plans to live in the recliner.
I dont intend to sit idly at home, he says. I would go crazy, I would drive my wife crazy, and I would drive my neighbors crazy. I want to be involved, because I want to continue to advocate for children. I love children.
Wrens Sunday Ford held off her nearest competitor, Drehers Sarah Binkley, to win her second straight Region AAA girls cross country title on Saturday.
Ford finished the 5k cross country course on Hilton Field at Fort Jackson with a time of 18:43.45 while Brinkley finished at 18:51.36.
Ford, a junior said that her time was the fastest on a cross country course though shes had better times at road races.
She also said the cool weather helped.
I was thankiful that it cooled off, Ford said.
Teammate Kayla Evatt, second to cross the finish line for Wren, finished 35th with a time of 21:22.58. Teammates Tiffany Metcalf (21:41.02), Kristen Roach (22:08.24) and Jenny Olive (23:19.71) rounded out the top five for a 9th place team finish for the Hurricanes.
The Wren boys cross country team were runners-up in the State AAA meet, finishing second behind Wade Hampton.
The Hurricanes were led by senior Daniel Eils, who finished third with a time of 16:22.94.
Top finishers for Wren were Andy Walls, 8th, at 16:50.74; Brad Orr, 10th at 16:52.63; Steven Craig, 13th at 16:59.78 and Brett Porter 17th with a time of 17:14.94.
The Hurricane cross country team is coached by Rick Taylor.
Palmettos Ben Sherard led the entire 5k race as he attempted to defend his AA state championship title, but was passed in the final 100 meters by Gilberts Jeremy Hunsaker (16:43.48).
Sherard, a senior, finished with a time of 16:46.03 followed closely by teammate Justin Meade (16:46.83).
Sherard set the pace for the race, leading by as much as 50 yards at times.
Second place was hotly contested as Meade traded places several times early in the race with Hunsaker and Blue Ridges Bryan Stoner (16:49.72) before Hunsakers sprint off Meades heels at the finish.
Jeff Dalton finished 23rd for the Mustangs with a time of 17:45.16 followed by Stephen Taylor (18:29.75) and Kyle Timmons (18:47.67) to give the Mustangs a third place finish.
Blue Ridge took first and Liberty finished second.
The Mustang girls cross country team made their first appearance in a State meet and finished 13th overall out of a field of 24 teams.
Jillana Darby finished 12th overall with a time of 20:42.44. She was followed by Ashley McClellion 32nd, (21:45.44), Beverly King (24:40.74) SArah Riddle (24:57.76) and Carmen Scales (25:07.36).
Both Palmetto cross country teams are coached by Brad McJunkin.
The AA/A State Cross Country meet was held at Fort Jackson in Columbia.
Alcohol and drug arrests topped the list as Williamston Police officers investigated the following incidents:
Nov. 9 - James Michael Eaton, 22, 1124 Williams Rd., Piedmont, was arrested for unsafe equipment, driving under suspension and operating an uninsured vehicle after a 1991 Ford Taurus was observed on Pelzer Avenue with a broken windshield. D. W. Alexander investigated.
Nov. 18 - Hugh Jackson Moon,56,122 Epps Rd., Belton, was arrested for driving under suspension after a vehicle was observed at a license checkpoint on South Hamilton St.
Justing Daniel Ridgeway, 617 Foster Rd., Williamston, was arrested for driving an uninsured vehicle and simple possession of marijuana after he was stopped at the same check point. Reports state a small bag containing approximately two grams of a green leafy substance was found in the vehicle. D. W. Alexander investigated.
Nov. 7 - Rodriqz Gonzalaz, 17, 404 Chief Dr., Spartanburg, was arrested for speeding and no drivers license after a 1995 Chevy Lumina was observed speeding on Greenville Dr., D. W. Alexander investigated.
Nov. 4 - Mabel Arnold Slade, 48, 27 Market St., Williamston, was arrested for reckless driving and no S. C. drivers license in possession after a white Chevrolet was observed on West Carolina St., J. L. Barnes investigated.
Nov. 3 - Salvador Salcido, 19, E. Main St., Williamston was arrested for no S. C. drivers license after a 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse was observed on E. Main St. with no tag lights. B. L. Wilson investigated.
Nov. 3 - Sunny Lee Pilgrim, 43, 348 Aimee Len Drive, Greer, was arrested for soliciting rides, public disorderly conduct and simple possession of marijuana after being obeserved walking on Anderson Dr. Reports state a search of her purse turned up approximately .5 grams of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. Sgt. D. Munger investigated.
Nov. 2 - Chandra Ann Bell, 21, 416 Belton Dr., A3, Williamston was arrested for simple possession of marijuana after officers were dispatched to E. Carolina St., P. D. Marter investigated.
Nov. 2 - Sedgwick Cordnell Oglesby, 30, 101 Franklin St., Apt. 1-82, Honea Path, was arrested for speeding and driving under suspension after a 1996 Toyota was observed on Parker St. Z. E. Gregory investigated.
Nov. 1 - Harold Maurice Dean, 45, 9 Washington St., Williamston, was arrested for open container in public after being observed walking on Jehue St with an open beer. Sgt. D. Munger investigated.
Nov. 1 - Peter John Matthew Smith, 26, 14 Kain Dr., Piedmont, was arrested for open container and simple possession of marijuana after a 1993 Ford Crown Victoria was observed operating on North Hamilton St. without a tag light. Two open cans of beer were observed in the vehicle. A small baggie containing approximately two grams of a leafy like substance believed to be marijuana was found.
Reports state Gary Shawniel Sanders, 24, 207 Autumn Ridge Trail Roswell Ga., was also charged with open container and simple possession of marijuana after a small baggie containing a leafy like substance was found in his possession. Sgt. D. Munger investigated.
Nov. 1 - Wanda Hawkins Reid, 39, 416 Belton Dr., Apt. 4D Williamston, was arrested for driving under suspension and operating an uninsured vehicle after a white Toyota was observed at a drivers license check point on Parker St. Z. E. Gregory investigated.
Nov. 1 - Eckerd Drug, 201 East Main St., Williamston reported a shoplifting incident in which various medicines valued at $543 were taken from the store. Z. E. Gregory investigated.
Nov. 3 - Daryl Bernard Smith, 38, 22 Tripp St., Williamston was arrested for trespass notice and bench warrant in Greenville County after officers were dispatched to 252 E. Carolina St. P. D. Marter investigated.