News Archive

(4605) Week of Nov. 16, 2005

Mustangs win State 2A cheer title
Loan must be repaid judge says
Everyone invited to Keep Christmas alive
Henderson updates Pelzer Council on projects
Pelzer leadership changes hands
West Pelzer Council addresses town issues, others
Convention Center incentives  receive first reading

Mustangs win State 2A cheer title

The Palmetto High School Competitive Cheer Squad took first place in the South Carolina High School League State 2A Championship held at the Colonial Center in Columbia Saturday.

Competing against 11 of the State’s elite squads, the Mustangs turned in their best performance of the year, soundly outscoring their competitors.

“It was definitely their best performance of the year and the scores showed it,” Palmetto High Varsity/JV Cheerleading coach Sheri Alexander  said. “It was their highest score all year.”

The Mustangs entered the competition with confidence after turning in improving performances in regional  competitions during the season. 

They  traveled to Columbia with high hopes after finishing second in the qualifying competition held at White Knoll a week earlier, where they finished behind the Mid-Carolina squad.

Palmetto High School principal Mason Gary and Athletic Director Tommy Davis were present at the competition, joining the enthusiastic supporters who cheered the Mustangs on during the competition.

Following an excited and clean performance, the Mustangs waited for the final results. As results were announced, Mid-Carolina was named state runner-up.

Sitting in the seats with their heads down in anticipation, the Mustang squad awaited the announcement. 

“And now, the 2A State Champions are.... PALMETTO!”

The Palmetto cheerleaders came out of their seats with screams and tears, jumping and hugging as they made their way to the Colonial Center floor to receive their Championship medals and  trophy.

Each team member was presented a South Carolina High School League championship shirt and Principal Gary presented each with their High School League gold medal.

The presentation was the highlight for squad seniors after years of cheering.

“More than their performance, Coach Alexander said, “they came through a lot of obstacles this year. I’m proud that they came together.”

“About half way through the season, I thought they would come apart,” Coach Alexander said. “But they pulled together and made it happen.”

Coach “A,” (as the squad calls her)  praised the eight seniors on the cheer squad. “A big shout out for the seniors,” she said.

“The other girls really wanted to do it for the seniors, because there are so many that have been on the squad for so many years. They are going to be missed.”

Alexander also praised squad captain Nicole Bush.

“We had a wonderful captain in Nicole,” Alexander said. “She really kept everybody motivated. She is a great leader. She always knew what to say and when to say it.”

“I hope it sinks in for them," Alexander said. “It is so surreal - but it is. I hope they understand what a big accomplishment it is for them.”

Varsity squad accomplishments in 2005 included seven regional competitions.

Improving with each competition, the Musangs had three first place finishes, one second, two fourth place finishes and one competition where they did not place.

The squad includes eight Seniors, twelve Juniors and two Sophomores.

Squad members include Seniors Nicole Bush, Kristen Clark, Danielle Smith, Lauren Mauldin, Hayley Meade, Katie Lollis, Jessica Vinson and Brittany Bowman.

 Other squad members on the Championship team include Jill Bagwell, Brittany Davenport, Lauren Fincher, Nikki Green, Brittany Hooker, Hannah Johnson, Chelsea Jones, Emily Mahaffey, Hannah Rogers, Haley Tribble, Jena Whitten, Brooklyn Williams and Katie Zahnd.

Coach Alexander was named South Carolina High School State Coach of the Year last year after the Mustangs finished as the State 2A runner-up.

She has been a cheerleading coach for 16 years and has been head coach at Palmetto High for three years. Under her direction, The Palmetto Competition Squad won the regional competition back to back in 2004 and 2005.

It has been ten years since Palmetto won a State Cheer Championship and it is the third cheer championship for the school.

Loan must be repaid judge says

By Stan Welch

Judge Jim Busby last week ordered Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy to repay approximately $4,300 he borrowed from Joel N. Griffin, Jr., a former reserve police officer for the Town of Williamston. The money was used to address debts incurred by Clardy in running his café in the town.

The ruling came after a closed session last Wednesday, in which a reporter from The Journal was barred from the courtroom at Clardy’s request. “The court officer came in and said there was a reporter that wanted to come in. The judge asked who it was, and when they told us, Phillip objected,” Griffin said. Efforts to contact Judge Busby for an explanation of why the civil case hearing was closed to the media were unsuccessful. Such hearings are normally considered open to the public, just as most other court proceedings, but are subject to the judges discretion.

According to Griffin, Clardy approached him for the loan through then Williamston Police Chief Troy Martin. “I think he was a little apprehensive about approaching me himself, but he knew Troy and I were close friends. He asked me to pay an overdue power bill, which I did. He was also having trouble with the cash register at his restaurant, and he asked me to loan him an additional $4,000. I was unable to borrow the money on an unsecured loan, so I bought a cash register on my credit card and later loaned him an additional $3,000.”

Griffin says he had a spoken agreement that Clardy would repay the money  within 24 months. After a year had passed with no payments being made, Griffin informed Clardy he was undertaking collection efforts. Efforts to bring the case before Williamston Magistrate Woodson failed, due to the conflict of interest Woodson was under, due to his relationship with the Town. The case was sent to West Pelzer magistrate William Bates, who later granted Clardy a change of venue. The first hearing scheduled was postponed because Clardy traveled to Louisiana to assist hurricane victims.  “I was in my truck on the way to court when the judge called and said that the Mayor had exercised his official duty and was out of town, so we would have to reschedule,” said Griffin. The protracted legal efforts ended last week when Busby issued his order requiring repayment of the loan within a year. According to Griffin, Clardy testified that he considered the money to be a gift, but Griffin had two witnesses to the contrary, including former chief Martin.

Griffin, speaking in an interview with the Journal this week, stressed that he had donated large amounts of his time to Williamston. “I helped the Mayor because I thought it would help him. I worked my heart out for Williamston as a reserve police officer. I probably put in a thousand or more hours for the town. I just want people to know that.”

Griffin also wants the town to know that a SLED imposed suspension he was under due to some of his actions as a reserve officer has been completely lifted. They released me entirely from that suspension. I have a letter from SLED stating that I am in good standing, and I’m currently working as a reserve police officer for the City of Anderson.”

Clardy’s difficulties continued this week, as the church he pastors, Faith Fellowship Ministry of the Upstate, was evicted from a building being leased to house the church. A Sheriff’s deputy and locksmith were present on  Monday before Clardy and others removed furnishings and other items from the building on Academy Street in Williamston. West Pelzer Magistrate William Bates confirmed that Monday was the last day on a notice to vacate the premises.

Everyone invited to Keep Christmas alive

Under the theme “Keep Christmas Alive,” the Town of Williamston will host a month long Christmas festival that will include several events this holiday season.

The Town 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 now and 6 p.m. Nov. 26, according to events organizer Bennie Hyder.

The event is part of a holiday Open House held at the Municipal Center during the month of December. Williamston will also host the Christmas Park during 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.

Hyder is asking area schools and churches to join the festivities by having their choir or choral group perform this holiday season at the Christmas Park.

Hyder said she is planning to schedule live holiday entertainment in the park during the month of December and would welcome any church, school or other group to perform their Christmas play or musical. Performances will be presented on the Amphitheatre stage which will be decorated for Christmas.

For more information on any of the Williamston events call Hyder at (864) 847-7473.

Henderson updates Pelzer Council on projects

Mayor Page Henderson conducted his last meeting of Pelzer Town Council Monday.

Before relinquishing the position and the swearing in of newly elected Mayor Kenneth Davis, Henderson brought council members up to date on several projects currently in the works.

Henderson said the town is in support of an expansion being sought by the Pelzer Rescue Squad. He said the town is expecting blueprints for the project which is estimated to have a construction cost of approximately $250,000.

Henderson said the town is still working toward finalizing the sewer project and that several houses have recently been cleaned up.

Pelzer and West Pelzer have been involved in a seven year project to tie in sewer lines with Western Carolina Regional Sewer.

According to Henderson, the sewer project had several delays caused by other entities involved in the project.

He said delays were caused by parameters on the sewer project being changed as the project proceeded including wanting separate plans and specs and other documentation for the lead town, which is Pelzer.

Henderson said that costs have increased tremendously since funding for the project was originally approved by USDA Rural Development in 1999. “Materials have skyrocketed with an increase of 30 to 40 percent for pipe,” Henderson said.

He said the town may need as much as $500,000 more than the $1.85 million grant originally approved by Rural Development.

“We just don’t have the money to do it,” he said. “It is the most frustrating thing I have been involved in,” the outgoing mayor said.

Henderson also updated Council on a new skateboard park the town is sponsoring. He said the town is planning to install lights and a gate at the old tennis courts located behind the town offices, which are now being used as a skate park. Other improvements are planned including adding signage.

Tonya Scott, who won a vacant council seat as a write-in candidate, is spearheading the project.

Town Attorney Jimmy King reported that he is working on the release form which will be required for persons using the facility.

King said that the town’s tort liability policy will cover the town for any exposure that may arise from the facility. 

Henderson also said that the gym will need some restroom upgrades to be usable as a meeting place.

He also reported that the town is waiting to hear if it will receive a $249,000 transportation enhancement grant that has been applied for. The town will provide a $40,000 match if the $200,000 grant is approved.

Other projects are also in the works according to Henderson. The town received a $6,500 grant with a $1,600 match that will be applied toward a $24,000 project for a new heating system in the gym. He also said that roof repairs were made at the gym.

Approximately $35,000 was spent for paint and a roof at the gym, Henderson said. Floors were also refinished in the community building and the building needs insulation, Henderson said.

Funding for projects is always a concern. “We continue to wait on grant money,” he said.

Councilman Tony Riddle asked about signs needed for the skate park.

Attorney King said he recommended the signage and release. He said that the insurance will cover the town, but also warned about negligence.

He also reiterated that if volunteers are to be a part of the project, the town should have adult supervision at the park at all times.

Following the swearing in of the new mayor and council, Councilman Steve McGregor was elected Mayor Pro Tem.

The town attorney then addressed the council and new mayor. He recommended that they learn about the form of government the town operates under.

According to King, Pelzer has a mayor-council form of goverment where the mayor is an equal member and CEO of the town who is responsible for hiring and firing of town employees.

He also recommended that legal questions be addressed to him through the mayor or town administrator Skip Watkins.

King suggested having a representative from ACOG or the municipal association come in for a presentation to the new mayor and council members.

In additional discussions, Henderson commented on the town’s sewer project.

“I don’t think anyone could say that Pelzer delayed the project. We have done everything  (USDA) has asked for this project. Though we may not like it, it will have to be done.”

Henderson said, even with the costs up, “We will still have to do it.”

Henderson said he would like to see the project finished.

“The only reason I ran again was to get this project through,” he said.

There was some discussion of an alternative sewer project tying in to a Ware Shoals treatment plant.

Henderson said there was no money offered by the county for a feasibililty study of the project.

Henderson said the proposed project makes more sense than the USDA plan to tie in with Western Carolina. “You don’t have to pump 22,000 ft. to Piedmont,” he said. “It is all downhill and the capacity is probably 5 times what is needed.”

The Ware Shoals facililty already serves Donalds and Due West and has excess capacity because of the closing of a textile plant.

The town attorney said the plant has a 9 million gallon per day capacity and is only treating about 1.5 million gallons per day now.

“It will cost half what it is going to cost now,” Henderson said comparing the Ware Shoals line to the Western Carolina project. He said at the time the Western Carolina solution was presented, the Ware Shoals alternative didn’t exist because the plant didn’t have available capacity.

Henderson said the town has been involved in upgrading sewer lines and they were smoked about three years ago to help identify inflow and infiltration (I&I) problems.

Henderson said there are I&I problems with the old lines of the system. He said that estimates are that the problem could only be reduced by approximately one third.

The outgoing mayor said he had confidence in his successor. “Kenneth will do a good job,” he said. He also offered his support. “Call on me anytime you need me,” Henderson said.

Town Administrator Watkins said “I appreciate Page’s efforts for the town these last couple of years.”

Davis  said he plans to look at recreation for the town and help the rescue squad move forward with a proposed expansion.

The next meeting of Pelzer Town Council will be held on Dec. 12 at 6 p.m.

Pelzer leadership changes hands

Outgoing Pelzer Mayor Page Henderson said that the completion of the sewer project, which he has worked on for more than seven years, has been a priority and one of his biggest frustrations.

“I don’t think anyone could say that Pelzer delayed the project. We have done everything  (USDA) has asked for this project. Though we may not like it, it will have to be done.”

Henderson said even with increasing costs the town will still have to move forward on the project. “We will still have to do it,” he said. “I would like to see the project finished. The only reason I ran again was to get this project through,” he said.

He said that during his 10 years as mayor, he had received “the greatest cooperation out of the town and council” with no turmoil or dissention.

Henderson was elected to Council in 1979, serving 16 years before being elected mayor in 1995.  “It has been a very positive experience for me,” he said. “The issue of the sewer project has struck in my craw.”

Henderson said the new mayor will do a good job and offered his support if needed. “He will do a good job and I will do what I can to help him.”

Henderson said that funding for projects in small towns is an ongoing problem.

“Everything we do in these small towns, we must go with our hands out,” he said.

His successor, Kenneth Davis, said the sewer project, recreation and helping the rescue squad move forward with a proposed expansion will be prioritites for him.

Davis was sworn in as Pelzer’s mayor by Town Administrator Skip Watkins during the regular monthly meeting of Council Monday.

Davis said that the Pelzer EMS is planning to build a new building to house the squad between the Odd Fellows building and the Pelzer ballfield on Hwy. 20 between Pelzer and West Pelzer.

He said a main priority for him will be working with the kids of Pelzer to find them something to do and to keep them off the street.

He said bathrooms and upgrades at the gym will also be priorities. He said he may consider moving the skate board park to the tennis courts at the Pelzer ballfield complex so that additional parking can be made available for the gym.

Davis also said he may also consider moving the town offices to the Pelzer EMS building, if their project comes through.

All of the projects will go before Council he said.  “They are a good council,” he said.

Davis said the rescue squad has outgrown their present building and needs additional space.

There is also a fence being planned from the Pelzer Post office to the gym which will be funded by donations from individuals and businesses. A plaque will recognize donors.

He said he plans to “look at everything, and start from there.”

Improvements in the Monkey Park and Wardlaw Park are also planned with new swings to be installed in both and new picnic shelters at Wardlaw.

“I would like to thank everybody that voted for me,” he said. “I think they will realize how much I love this town and everybody in it.”

Davis said he hopes to provide leadership to help bring the town back together. He said that since the mills closed down, Pelzer’s residents have drifted apart.

He said that through the recreation opportunities, churches and other activities he hopes to bring the town back together.

West Pelzer Council addresses town issues, others

By Stan Welch

The West Pelzer town hall was crowded Monday night, as the Town Council met to work through a fairly quiet agenda. Approximately 35 people were in attendance, and most not only got their money’s worth, but ended up putting in their two cents’ worth as well.

Council began by giving first reading approval to a change in the business license ordinance. Under the new regulation, anyone performing a one time job in town limits would pay a $50 fee, instead of the usual $100 fee. This is offered because such small jobs often pay so little that the full fee would cost most of what the job paid. Should a user of this option perform another job within town limits in the same calendar year, they would have to pay the balance of the full license fee. Approval was unanimous.

Mayor Paxton announced several upcoming events, including the Fourth Annual Christmas Parade, scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 3. There is no fee for entries to the parade, which the mayor hopes will be the town’s largest yet. A town wide cleanup for limbs and leaves will be held on two consecutive Saturdays, December 10 and 17. Those needing help getting their leaf bags to the street can call Town Hall. On November 29, the Strong communities program will hold a dinner for parents or grandparents with children under the age of six. It will be held at the Pelzer Community Building starting at 6 p.m. Contact Town Hall if you plan to attend.

Mayor Paxton also reported that Town police officers will be getting more involved in the community. “They will be getting out of their cars more and perhaps even coming to your door, to see how you are and if they can help you in any way”, said the Mayor. “The image of our police department isn’t always what it should be, so we want you to get to know these officers.”

Town Hall will be closed on the following days through the holiday season: Thursday and Friday, November 25 and 26, Monday, December 26; Monday January 2. The Town is also scheduling a day for someone from the council on aging to be on hand to provide information to the Town’s elderly citizens about the coming changes in the Medicare drug program. Details will appear in a town newsletter the Mayor will be mailing soon.

The town is also looking for artwork from the town’s children to display at the Town Hall through the holidays.

Councilman Pete Davis raised several issues, including the need to repair damage done to private property during the installation or repair of water lines. He referred to a broken sidewalk in front of one home and said, “It’s time to get this fixed.” He also asked that the Council receive monthly reports on the Town’s finances so that they can review them and stay informed. Paxton agreed, but pointed out that the Town is currently purchasing the software program designed to make that process possible. She did agree to provide him with a copy of the Town’s most recent audit.

Councilman Joe Turner stated that he had never demanded an inventory of the police department, as stated in last week’s Journal, but that he had called and asked Town Clerk Beth Lewis to do him a favor and have chief Wilson at the police department at a certain time the next day.

Mayor Paxton responded by saying that she should have been contacted and included in any such activity. Turner denied that he and Councilman Marshall King intended to inspect any guns. That effort to perform an inventory was abandoned after County Solicitor Crissy Adams stated that any disruption of the chain of custody related to any evidence at the department would be prosecuted, according to Mayor Paxton.

It was during the Citizens’ Comments portion of the agenda, however, that things began to really heat up. William Simmons rose to address the council and the audience. Simmons began by asking several people if they have ever known of him to “sell dope in town”. He then asked Councilwoman Maida Kelly if she had ever known him to do that. She said no, and he asked why she was telling people all over town that he was selling dope.

She strongly denied the charge, saying he was misinformed, and she had been misquoted. Simmons said he wanted the town to know that he does not sell dope. Members of the audience defended Kelly, saying that she wouldn’t say such a thing. Simmons responded that he had heard the same reports from 10 or 15 people. “If she didn’t say it, I apologize to her, but that’s what I’m hearing from all these different people.”

Mayor Paxton spoke and asked Simmons if she, the mayor, had ever said anything to him about Kelly being the source of the rumor. Simmons said plainly that Paxton had never mentioned anything about that to him. Paxton went on to say that a rumor saying that she had blamed Kelly was also false, and she felt that she deserved an apology also.

Several audience members told Simmons that he should name the people who were blaming Kelly, but he refused to do so, saying. “Mrs. Kelly knows who they are.” Councilman Pete Davis said that the only sign he’s seen is the large amount of traffic around Simmons home, adding that “Having a lot of cars around is no crime.”

Simmons pointed out that he has five children, and that alone causes a lot of traffic. He also owns a wrecker business, and “I have probably 25 cars around the house right now.”

Kelly again denied making the charges, saying, “Politics is a dirty, dirty business. But I do not want another threatening letter, Mr. Simmons. Do you understand?”

Simmons said he did, but added that he wanted it understood that he didn’t “want to hear that rumor repeated again.” Finally, town Attorney Keri Murphy, at Mayor Paxton’s request, stepped in and told everyone that the issue had been aired and was not a town issue.

Keri then suggested that an effort to meet with officials from the Municipal Association for a training session on the mayor/council form of government be re-implemented. Such a plan was in place at the time of Councilman Terry Davis’ unexpected death last year.

“We can coordinate with Pelzer, which has a similar form of government and do this all at once. Both towns have newly elected officials and this would be helpful in defining the roles of the mayor and the council in this form of government.” Council agreed unanimously that such a session would be helpful.

Doris Cole spoke about the Strong Communities program, and passed out brochures. 

The Council adjourned, only to reconvene to conduct an executive session concerning legal and contractual issues. After a 25 minute session, they returned and adjourned.

Convention Center incentives  receive first reading

By Stan Welch

An ordinance intended to add several tracts to an ethereal multi-county industrial park became entangled in a parliamentary briar patch that threatened to engulf the Anderson County Council Tuesday night.

Ordinance 2005-032 was up for third reading, but an additional series of properties, including the recently constructed Hilton Gardens facility, was also and unexpectedly offered for consideration. The confusion began early and lasted awhile. Councilwoman Cindy Wilson made a motion to separate the properties included under the heading Tract 21, or the property owned by S&T Enterprises of Anderson.

 That property is the site for the Hilton Gardens Hotel and convention facility, as well as some currently undeveloped adjacent property. Wilson contended that other property owners in the area would not receive the same concessions that S&T Enterprises would enjoy. She also argued that such incentives are more properly offered to industrial enterprises. Her motion died for lack of a second, but that was at least in part because of the emerging confusion.

 Councilman Larry Greer expressed his understanding that the ordinance as written would include only the properties that had been through the two prior readings. He added that if that ordinance was approved on third reading, the Council could then introduce an ordinance to add tract 21 to the park, and give it first reading approval.

 After further discussion, Council voted to approve the ordinance as originally written and twice approved. The vote was  6-0-1, with Chairperson Floyd abstaining. Floyd explained that she abstained because she didn’t understand what she was voting on. “That was a very confusing situation.  We have voted on this twice but now there’s things in the document that aren’t in the ordinance. I just don’t understand it.”

 Council then entertained a motion to add the S&T property to the park, and give that ordinance first reading approval by title only. Councilman Bill McAbee recused himself due to his business relationship with S&T Enterprises. He had similarly recused himself at earlier meetings when the Hilton properties were under consideration for other financial incentives, such as infrastructure credits. Those incentives were given first reading approval later in the meeting being reported here. His recusal left the council with an even number of voting members, a fact which immediately came into play, when the motion to give first reading approval died from a 3-3 tie vote. Council then took a ten minute break that stretched to twenty minutes. When Council returned, the confusion really moved in.

 Floyd began by saying that she had had to catch up on some things during the break. “I had a long talk with Ms. Wilson and (county attorney) Tom Martin. I had voted for this ordinance twice and suddenly tonight everything had changed. Mr. Martin, who has been one of my mentors since I’ve been on Council, explained it to me.” She then stated that she wanted to revisit the issue in order to change her vote. Councilman Fred Tolly then made a motion to reconsider the issue and Councilman Dees seconded. The vote was 4-2, with McAbee again recusing himself. Greer and Wilson opposed the vote.

 A subsequent motion to amend the ordinance to include tract 21 was immediately itself amended by Wilson to limit the new ordinance to the convention center only, and not the adjacent undeveloped tracts. That amendment failed for a lack of a second.

 Greer then stated that the Council members were being forced to vote for all or nothing. He again asked that tract 21 be added to the agenda and considered separately for first reading approval. County attorney Tom Martin reminded Council that they have to approve the park in the same form as the Greenville County Council.

 Wilson said that it was “absolutely sneaky and devious to slip this in on third reading. This is an ordinance, what we approved earlier was a resolution.” Tolly asked whether Council hadn’t voted on this before, and was told that Council had approved an inducement agreement for S&T.

 County Administrator Joey Preston reminded Council that they could reconsider their vote on whether to establish a separate ordinance for the tract and give it first reading approval. After further circuitous discussion, Council once again voted on the original ordinance so that Floyd could withdraw her abstention and vote in favor of Ordinance 2005-032.

 Tolly then made a motion to present an ordinance concerning Tract 21 for first reading approval by title only. Greer pointed out that Tolly was not on the prevailing side of the 3-3  vote that originally killed that proposal, thereby making him ineligible to make a motion to reconsider. In a tie vote, the no vote is the prevailing side; parliamentary procedure states that only the prevailing side can move to reconsider a vote.

 Chairperson Floyd settled the issue by making the motion to reconsider the vote. Council, with McAbee still enjoying his lengthy recusal, voted 5-1 to place the issue back on the agenda, and then voted 4-2 to give ordinance 2005-043 first reading approval, with Wilson and Greer opposing. Wilson and Greer also cast the only opposing votes when the ordinance providing an infrastructure credit to the S&T Enterprises property was presented.







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