News Archive

(4607) Week of Nov. 14, 2007

Park decorating now underway
GWBA ornaments are now available
Williamston parade set for December 8
Area residents no shows for planning input meeting
Reserve your display space now
Trees to be on display at Town Hall
Williamston officers investigate incidents
Deputies investigate counterfeit bills in trash
Pelzer area may become National Historic District
Beaverdam sewer line now in use
Game-ball run to raise money for M.S.
Clemson to host Fowl Fest pep rally
HSAP Scores improve
Seems to Me . . . Business as Usual

Park decorating now underway

Work is underway for the annual celebration of lights and unique displays erected in Mineral Spring Park during the holidays and this may be the biggest year yet.

The event is being organized by members of the Springwater Committee who will be coordinating special entertainment and events for the 2007 Christmas Park. The Town of Williamston, the Williamston Fire Department and the Palmetto High AFJROTC are also helping place decorations in the park this year.

According to Chairman Dianne Lollis, more than 60 spaces are expected to be reserved by businesses, churches, organizations and individuals.

Many of the displays will be new and most of the old favorites will return, she said.

The Spring Water Committee has invested in five new animated lighted displays and the Williamston Fire Department,  Williamston Park Project are adding two more.

Several area businesses will have new lighted displays, Lollis said.

Committee members are asking for support from area businesses, churches and other organizations in making the holiday project a community effort to “Celebrate the Season.”

Anyone interested can participate by placing a lighted display in the park or by volunteering to help set up displays and lights prior to opening night, which will be Saturday, November 24 at 6 p.m.

This Saturday, Nov.10 has been designated as a park work day. Workers, volunteers and persons placing displays in the park will be hanging lights and setting up displays to get the park ready for opening night on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

If your organization would like to reserve a display space - applications are available at Town Hall, The Journal or call Dianne Lollis at 864-847-5743.

Deadline to reserve a particular space is Thursday, Nov. 15. though spaces may be assigned  through opening day, Nov. 24. Displays must be in place and ready for lighting by 5 p.m. on Nov. 24, Lollis said.

There will also be horse drawn carriage rides, special entertainment, hot drinks and cookies and Santa in the Scout Hut. Several area churches will be sponsoring live nativity scenes.

Deck the Halls will also be a part of the opening night with the Christmas Park this year. Trees placed in the Municipal Center may be live or artificial and businesses, churches or individuals interested in participating are welcome.

Anyone interested in placing a decorated tree in the Hall of Lights at the Williamston Municipal Center is also asked to contact Lollis.

Entertainment schedules and other information about the Christmas Park and other holiday events will be included in a special section in The Journal next week.

GWBA ornaments are now available

The Greater Williamston Business Association now has 2007 Collectors Christmas Ornaments available.

The  2007 ornament features the old city hall building which was torn down last year.

The ornament is dark blue with silver artwork and wording which states Memories of Christmas Williamston Town Hall, 1914-2007.

Also available are the 2006 ornaments which feature Ms. Leona Parker, a local educator who recently passed away.

The ornament is pink with a burgundy imprint of Ms. Parker reading to a child. The ornament recognizes Parker for 50 plus years of service.

The popular Dr. Dwight H. Smith ornament that was made available in 2005 and a memorial issue in purple and white are also available.

The reissue ornament features Dr. Dwight Smith on his bicycle in winter attire, The first order of the popular Christmas item sold out by mid October and GWBA members reordered several times to meet demand.

 The 2005 ornament is clear red with a silver imprint and wording “50 + years of service to the community.”

The ornament was the first to recognize an individual associated with  the community.

Previous ornaments have focused on landmarks and park scenes. 

Other ornaments have featured Palmetto High School Mustangs 1954-2004, G. F. Tolly Furniture Store, Grace Methodist Church, W. C. Ellison Roller Mill, Williamston Female College, the Historic Depot, Scout Hut and the Municipal Center. Others have recognized the lighted angels on Main St. and even Santa.

The GWBA Collectors Christmas ornaments are available at Greater Williamston Business Association member locations for $5.

A limited supply of retired ornaments is also available for $5 each for persons hoping to complete their collection. Special four packs of previously issued ornaments are available. Retired ornaments are available at MV Pizza and The Journal.

Williamston parade set for December 8

The Williamston Christmas Parade is scheduled for Saturday, December 8 at 3 p.m.

Parade Chairman Walter Smith said the committee is now accepting applications from businesses, churches, organizations, individuals and others interested in participating in the annual holiday event.

The Theme for the 2007 parade will be Keep Christ in Christmas. There is no entry fee however organizers urge participants to bring plenty of candy.

The parade will begin at the traffic light at the intersection of Hamilton St. and Greenville Dr. proceed along Main St. and will end at Calvary Baptist.

Judges will be located in front of the Municipal Center and entries will be judged as they pass. Entries are reminded to make sure entry numbers are visible and performances are done only at this location. Performance for judging should be no longer than 3 minutes.

“Following the guidelines will avoid wide gaps in the parade as it moves along Main St.,” Smith said. Participants are also asked to proceed through the entire parade route.

Registration forms for the parade are available at the Williamston Municipal Center or register by phone by calling 864-847-7473. Callers should give the name and type of entry. Entries must be registered to be judged. Registration deadline is Thursday, December 6.

Entries may be registered the day of the parade and entry numbers can be picked up at Fort Hill Gas offices on Hamilton St. beginning at 1 p.m. until 2:50 p.m.

A double line will be formed for parade line up on Hamilton St. Horses are to be in the rear.

Trophies will be given out at City Hall immediately following the parade, Smith said. “We are looking for a bigger parade every year.”

Smith thanked the Williamston Town Council and parade organizers for their support of the event

“Everyone is invited to help make this a joyous Merry Christmas Season,” Smith said.

For more information, call Smith at 864-847-7929.

Area residents no shows for planning input meeting

By Stan Welch

 A land use forum held last Thursday night at Palmetto High School attracted only two people, but Councilman Ron Wilson said it was one of the most successful of the series of such meetings that have been held.

Wilson is chairman of the land use committee appointed by County Council Chairman Bob Waldrep. The committee also includes District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and District Five Councilman Michael Thompson.

The committee has been holding a series of such meetings around the county, seeking input into the county’s land use plan and how it can be shaped to better serve the people of the county. A meeting held earlier this month in District Six resulted in Councilman Ron Wilson introducing an ordinance to completely change the method by which zoning is imposed in different parts of the county.

Reportedly, under the proposed ordinance, which was approved by title only at last week’s County Council meeting, zoning could be done by district, through a simple majority vote of County Council. Currently, zoning is done by precinct, and through a referendum process.

Despite the radical nature of the proposed changes in the process, Councilman Wilson said last Thursday that the process will not be short circuited. “We are having meetings in the district to let the public speak about this. We’re meeting at the new Powdersville Library on November 19, and at Wren High School on November 26. This will give the folks in the district a chance to express their opinions.”

Planning director Jeff Ricketson and his staff were on hand Thursday night, and explained that one tool to use in shaping the future of the area is developmental standards. “If we establish fair standards and enforce them equally, it makes life much easier for the staff. That is a level of regulation that can be very effective and actually relieve some of the pressure for zoning in a given area.”

The two residents who attended were actually developers from the Powdersville area, but they expressed tolerance, if not outright support, of stronger development standards. “We don’t want to see Highway 153 look like Woodruff Road in five or ten years,” said one. “We need to set standards and apply them fairly.”

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson agreed, saying that developers in other areas and states accept certain requirements imposed upon them as the cost of doing business. Referring to her often  repeated mantra of requiring acceleration and deceleration lanes at the entrance to large subdivisions, Wilson drew laughter from both the staff, as well as Councilmen Wilson and Thompson. She joined in, saying, “I guess you’ve heard that before.”

Councilman Wilson also raised the question of form based zoning, which Nashville Tennessee  is using successfully to address the problems caused by that area’s explosive growth in recent years. Form based zoning essentially imposes zoning restrictions based on the density of population and the rate of growth. It has proved to be an effective tool in combating urban sprawl.

Ricketson pointed out that establishing form based zoning in a county that is largely unzoned is almost impossible. Another point he made is that Nashville is such a popular real estate market that local government can be, in Ricketson’s words, “a bit more high handed. They aren’t worried about running growth off by having stricter regulations, because it’s clear that won’t happen in that market.”

Councilwoman Wilson said that Anderson County has that potential in its future. “We have a beautiful area and good people here. We need to preserve that beauty, because that’s what attracts people to move here.”

Infrastructure questions also arose, with Councilman Thompson asking whether the County’s newly established storm water plan includes filtration measures for runoff oil and other chemical pollutants. Councilwoman Wilson questioned the arrangement on sewer lines in the Powdersville area, saying that the County had to maintain the sewer lines, but that Western Greenville Water and Sewer, the utility that treats the wastewater, retains all the revenues generated. That same situation will apply to West Pelzer when it connects to Western Greenville.

Councilmembers Wilson and Thompson agreed that standards are too lax in Anderson County. “It seems after looking at other counties and what they do, we just give away the farm in terms of what we require.” Wilson agreed, saying, “Change has to come in this county. It’s up to us to find the least painful way to bring that change about.”

Reserve your display space now

If your organization would like to reserve a display space in the Williamston Christmas Park, applications are available at Town Hall, The Journal or by calling Dianne Lollis at 864-847-5743. Deadline to reserve a particular space is Thursday, Nov. 15, though spaces may be assigned  through opening day, Nov. 24. Displays must be in place and ready for opening night ceremony at 6 p.m. on Nov. 24, Chairman Dianne Lollis said.

Trees to be on display at Town Hall

“Deck the Halls” will again be held at the Williamston Municipal Center this holiday season.

Decorated trees may be live or artificial. Businesses, churches or individuals interested in participating are welcome.

Entries will be judged and the winners of each category will be displayed the week before Christmas, organizers said.

Anyone interested in placing a tree is asked to contact Dianne Lollis at 864-847-5743.  Entry forms are also available at Town Hall

Williamston officers investigate incidents

Nov. 2 – Palmetto High School SRO R.G. Alexander had a busy day, beginning with a juvenile, age 15, pulling a fire alarm, and followed by two juveniles fighting at school. They were arrested and transported to WPD where their parents retrieved them. DJJ was notified of both incidents.

Nov. 3 – Sgt. M.D. Creamer observed a vehicle traveling left of center and conducted a traffic stop. The driver, David Correia, WM, 41, 5’10", 210 pounds, black/brn, of Breazeale Rd., was found to be driving under suspension. He was arrested and transported to WPD.

Nov. 3 – Sgt. M.D. Creamer observed a vehicle without a working tag light and conducted a traffic stop. The driver, Elidio Ostoa, WM, 37, 5’3", 160 pounds, black/brn, of 10 spring St. in Pelzer, informed Creamer that he had no driver’s license. Upon confirming that information through the SCDMV records, Sgt. Creamer placed Ostoa under arrest and transported to WPD.

Nov. 4 – Sgt. A Digirolamo, Jr. and Capt. K.P. Evatt observed a vehicle with an out of date Michigan license tag. The vehicle also swerved from side to side of the lane several times. Following a traffic stop, it was discovered that Mark Weiller, WM, 40, 6’, 200 pounds, brn/brn of 15 Ellison St., was driving without a SC driver’s license, without a valid car license, and without insurance. He was arrested and transported to WPD.

Nov. 6 – Ptl. M.W. Ritter observed a vehicle with a malfunctioning taillight. He initiated a traffic stop and discovered that the driver, Manuel Arceo-Leon, WM, 26,5’10", 188 pounds, black/brn, of Belton, had no insurance. He was arrested and transported to WPD.

Nov.7 – Capt. K.P. Evatt responded to Main Street Motors where Deborah Thompson reported that the driver’s side vent window was broken on one of the vehicles on the lot. Damage was estimated at $75.

Nov. 7 – Capt. K.P. Evatt responded to a report of a runaway juvenile. He was able to locate the juvenile at the home of a friend and ascertain that she was safe.

Nov. 9 – Cpl. D.W. Bryant responded to the Rite-Aid pharmacy where Shawn Howard reported that someone had stolen her purse and a back pack, as well as some groceries, from her car while she was in the store.

Nov. 10 – Sgt. T.A. Call received a report of a stolen SC license tag, # 3109CE, from Derek Henry of Williamston.

Deputies investigate counterfeit bills in trash

Two employees of a solid waste company, making their usual collections, opened a trash bin at trailer # 4 at 825 Joe Black Road and found several denominations of counterfeit bills on top of the trash. They finished the trash collection and drove to a different location where they called the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy W.E. Gregory and Lt. Hunter responded to their location and found a number of bills, printed from a computer, in several denominations. Agent Greg Johnson of the United States Secret Service was summoned to the scene and assumed control of the investigation.


Nov. 6 – Deputy M. Voigt responded to 1645 Easley Hwy. where Keith Queen, of Miller Construction Co., reported the theft of two 12 volt John Deere batteries from a piece of heavy equipment. Some parts from another piece of equipment were also missing. Total losses were estimated at $325.

Nov. 6 – M. Voigt responded to 681 Rogers Rd. where he received a report of burglary from Weston Shirley. Shirley said he was in the process of moving into the house at that location but had been staying with a sick relative recently. Stolen was a variety of hand and power tools, electronics, a riding lawnmower and other items, with an estimated total value of $5100.


Nov. 6 – T.W. Newman was dispatched to 104 Jameson Rd. where Kenneth Morrison reported the theft of a child’s motorcycle from his garage. The cycle, a child’s green 2003 Kawasaki KDX 50, was valued at $500.

Nov. 7 – J.F. Parker was dispatched to the Dollar General Store where employee Tammy Payne reported that someone had gone into the store office and stolen her purse.

Nov. 7 – S.E. Rushton, along with two other officers, responded to 202 Old River Rd. looking for Natasha Coale, WF, 26, 5’2", 162 pounds, red/blue, who was wanted on a warrant in a breach of trust case, related to her borrowing of a vehicle from Sandra Smith, of Williamston. Coale had allegedly borrowed Smith’s van on November 5 to go to the store and never returned it. Smith later located the vehicle at the Old River Rd. location, and subsequently called the ACSO to press charges.

Nov. 7 – While responding to a call for assistance from another deputy, J.T. Bowers struck a deer with his cruiser and was unable to proceed to the location. He put the deer down with a shot from his backup weapon. The vehicle suffered only minor damage.

Nov. 7 – M.A. Whitfield responded to the Bi-Lo on Hwy 153 where Petrice Harris reported the theft of the left rear light from her 1999 Chevrolet Lumina. She said when she parked she noticed a car just like hers parked nearby. She said that vehicle was missing the left rear light. She did not get the tag number of the other vehicle. The loss was estimated at $105.

Nov. 7 – J.F. Parker was dispatched to 501 Old Schoolhouse Rd. where Brad Locklair reported the theft of his 1994 red Chevy Z71 truck. It has chrome side rails and a chrome toolbox. The SC tag # is 389DLC.


Nov. 6 – R.D. Smith was dispatched to 207 Slabtown Rd. where James Mayfield reported the breaking and entering of his home and the theft of property valued at $300.

Nov. 7 –M.A. Whitfield responded to 520 Hampton Rd. where James Edward reported the theft of a utility trailer. He said he had been contacted by two juvenile witnesses, ages 13 and 14, who had seen the subjects in a blue Ford Ranger truck taking the trailer. The witnesses then said they had been observed by the suspects, who left quickly with the trailer. The witnesses reportedly followed the suspects to Highway 29, where the driver of the truck stopped and pointed a firearm at them. They caught back up with him at the corner of Hwy. 29 and Crappie Drive, where a female subject described as tall and heavy set with red hair got out. The driver left with the trailer. Whitfield later tried to speak to the female subject at the Crappie Dr. address but got no answer at the door.

Pelzer area may become National Historic District

If the efforts of a group working toward the designation are successful, the Town of Pelzer may become known as a National Historic District

Pelzer Mayor Kenneth Davis, the Town of Pelzer, Supervisor of Survey, Registration, and Grants with the State Historic Preservation Office of the SC Dept. of Archives and History Bradley S. Sauls, and The Community of Pelzer Historical Society President and Chairperson Beth Rostron, announced recently that work is beginning on nominating the Pelzer area as National Historic District for the Pelzer area.

The Community of Pelzer Historical Society will continue to focus on the role that preservation plays in the revitalization of a community and support outreach fund raising projects, Rostron said.

“Each community’s backbone of history and culture helps define what makes that community unique. The Pelzer, SC community is especially unique in its history of electiricity. It was the first place in the world to ever have electricity generated at a distance specifically for maunfacturing purposes. Through the Town of Pelzer partnership, we hope to work with other cities and towns across the Nation to preserve the tangible parts of our past that enhance the quality of life and culture in our community,” said Rostron.

The Town of Pelzer has donated time, effort and money in the dissemination of important historic information as well as donations to the Historic Pelzer Library Project. If you would like more information on either of these projects, contact the town of Pelzer at or William C J Rostron, Project Consultant, Community of Pelzer Historical Society at or call 864-947-8817.

“The work of the community of Pelzer Historical Society is a natural fit for our goal in the Town of Pelzer to provide a sense of civic pride and community,” said Mayor Davis. “We loook forward to building on the foundation we’ve established and see this important initiative become part of how America views our homes, neighborhood and community.”

The efforts of the Town of Pelzer are intended to further the preservation of Pelzer history which includes its buildings and structures.

The State Historic Preservation Office encourages the Town of Pelzer and the Community of Pelzer Historical Society in its efforts to document and preserve its history. We look forward to working with both to nominate a Pelzer Historic District for listing in the National Register of Historic Places,” said Sauls.

The projects will be featured n the annual membership magazine of the Community of Pelzer Historical Society to appear in June of 2008.

Photo documentation began in 2006.

Beaverdam sewer line now in use

Following years of controversy and construction, the Beaverdam sewer line opened its second phase last week.

 The opening of Phase II of the line will provide treatment for the Rocky River basin, thereby freeing up capacity at the Six and Twenty treatment plant, according to a county press release.

 Phase II was constructed in three segments. Segment one runs from the upstream end of the City of Anderson’s Rocky River line and follows Rocky River to a point near Cobb’s Glen, where it crosses the river before continuing to Cox Road. Segment two extends that line from the confluence of Little Beaverdam Creek and Big Beaverdam Creek, onward to a point at the end of the existing Phase 1A project, which was completed two years ago.

The Phase II project consists of approximately 45,100 feet of sewer mains varying from thirty six to twenty seven inches in diameter.

Total costs for the project were $7,725,000, or approximately $43,000 over the estimated cost of $7,681,318.

Phase 1A began at the Alliance Industrial Park and ran to a pump station at Big Beaverdam Creek and Long Road, where the wastewater collected was sent through a ten inch force main to a point at Highway 81, where the sewerage is discharged to a gravity feed line that runs roughly parallel to Highway 81 and Evergreen Circle to I-85, which it crosses before connecting to an eighteen inch line feeding the Six and Twenty WWTP.

According to the press release, the new lines will serve the Alliance Industrial Park and the new Walgreen’s Distribution Center, as well as the surrounding community.


Game-ball run to raise money for M.S.

The brothers of Sigma Nu fraternity at Clemson University and the University of South Carolina will be on the run next week, carrying the game ball for the Clemson-USC game from Clemson to Columbia.

They’re not just doing it for kicks. The annual event raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The 138-mile trek will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Esso Club in Clemson, as Clemson’s students depart with the ball. They will run through the night to Greenwood, where they will meet USC’s Sigma Nu chapter to hand the ball off. The USC students will run the ball the rest of the way to Columbia, where it will arrive Friday evening.

To make a donation, checks can be sent to Sigma Nu, 2224 University Station, Clemson, S.C., 29632. Checks can be made payable to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Clemson to host Fowl Fest pep rally

Clemson University students want to see the Tigers beat the birds over the next two weeks.

To get pumped up for the last two football games against the Boston College Eagles and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, the Student Alumni Association is hosting “Fowl Fest” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, on the lawn of the president’s home.

The event replaces Big Thursday, a pep rally that featured a mock funeral for USC’s Cocky, which traditionally ends with the burning of Cocky.

In light of the recent Ocean Isle, N.C., beach house fire that killed six USC students and one Clemson student, the organizers of Big Thursday thought a different type of event would be more appropriate.

They came up with the “Feathers will fly at Fowl Fest pep rally.”

“After hearing the news of everything that happened, and especially being at the vigil that brought so many people together to mourn, the decision was obvious,” said Anastasia Thyroff, a senior marketing major from Pittsford, N.Y., and co-chair of Fowl Fest. “During this time of grieving, there needs to be a time of celebration, not a time of rivalry. We look forward to having the traditional Big Thursday come back next year, but this year was definitely not the right time.”

The pep rally will feature the Clemson cheerleaders, Rally Cats, the Tiger mascot, President Jim Barker, former Clemson football standout Levon Kirkland, the Clemson University Gospel Choir and other special guests. Chick-fil-A will be on hand with free sandwiches.

Long-sleeved Fowl Fest T-shirts will be on sale for $15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday in the University Union loggia and at the pep rally.

HSAP Scores improve

According to recent reports, Anderson School District One tenth grade students improved in both academic areas of the High School Assessment Program (HSAP). 

In English Language Arts, 94.2 percent of tenth grade students met the standard which is an improvement of 2.9 percent over 2006 results. 

In the area of mathematics, 88.5 percent met the standard which is .6% higher than last year.

Overall 87.9 percent of the tenth grade class met the standard on both exit exam tests, which surpassed the state’s average of 77.1% of students passing the test on the first attempt, school officials said.

Anderson School District One’s overall performance on the HSAP Exit Exam placed District One in the top five districts of the 85 school districts in the state.

Wren High School Principal, Robbie Binnicker, stated, “We are very pleased with the results of our HSAP scores and the progress we see our students making. Our teachers work hard throughout the year to prepare the students. The students take the test seriously and the scores reflect the results of their effort.”

Dr. Wayne Fowler, Superintendent of Anderson One, said, “The district and high schools are providing the support for the students to be successful. We look closely at new initiatives to assist with raising student achievement. Schools are finding ways to meet individual needs of each student and that is the key to closing the achievement gap for all students.”

The High School Assessment Program (HSAP) is a battery of tests administered to all SC high school students completing their second year in high school.  HSAP assesses the student’s academic achievement on high school standards in accordance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2002 and fulfills the similar requirement of the South Carolina Education Accountability Act (EAA) of 1998 that each public school student pass an exit examination in order to receive a South Carolina high school diploma. 

 The HSAP is broken down into essentially two portions, English Language Arts and Mathematics.  The ELA portion assesses reading, writing, and research skills.  The Mathematics portion assesses understanding of numbers and associated operations, algebra, measurement and geometry, data analysis and probability, and problem solving.  Students who do not pass one or both sections of the test have the opportunity to take another version of the test in succeeding years prior to their time of graduation.

“Our students and teachers continue to do a fine job with these particular tests.  We are especially proud of the achievement level of our first time test takers.  Expectations remain high for success on HSAP with its relevance understood and preparation given a proper degree of seriousness and enthusiasm,” stated Dr. John Pruitt, director of secondary education.

Seems to Me . . . Business as Usual

By Stan Welch

Two seemingly unrelated yet controversial issues may have more in common than you might think.

How, you might ask, can the proposed purchase of an 800MHz communications system and the issuance of a membership in a private club to the County Council have anything in common? Well, the Latin phrase quid pro quo comes to mind. Now, I know very little Latin, but that phrase means “this for that”. It implies a favor given for a favor received.

The 800 radio system (which is how I’ll be referring to it from now on, because I’m tired of typing a capital M, capital H, and a z over and over, okay?) is clearly what the county’s emergency responders want for their next communications system. And that is fine. That’s absolutely what they should have once a thorough and complete examination of the information is completed, and if that review shows that system to be the best choice.

Council Chairman Bob Waldrep and District Seven watchdog Cindy Wilson have had the temerity to ask questions about alternative sources for the purchase of the system, as well as asking technical questions about certain aspects of the proposed system’s capabilities. They have been chastised and vilified for their temerity, although neither has raised a single objection to the actual use of an 800 system. Both, in fact, have repeatedly stated their support of an 800 radio system, and for the County’s emergency responders.

They have asked these questions of an array of emergency personnel and fire chiefs who have streamed into county Council meetings to push their agenda, which has persistently been the construction and installation of the system offered by Motorola through a contract with the state. Speaking of an array, there have been enough Motorola representatives on hand in recent weeks to make Marconi proud.

Now, I’m not saying that the Motorola proposal isn’t the best one. I’m simply saying it isn’t the only one. There are still many questions concerning this system, but here are some answers that have surfaced as a result of all these questions. We have learned that the 800 system, which will cost approximately fifteen million dollars, cannot be used as the primary system, because it cannot be used to tone out, or to alert, firefighters and other responders,since it doesn’t activate their pagers.

We have learned that the 800 radios can and do experience serious difficulties in transmitting from inside a building to outside a building, and vice versa. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens often enough that most responders will continue to carry two radios no matter what. We have learned that the County chose to go with Motorola without benefit of any other bids. At least one major player in the communications industry has questioned that decision and the lack of a bid process.

For the record, the County is piggybacking on the state’s bid process, which awarded the contract to Motorola years ago, and is not required in this instance to perform their own bid process. The problem is that there appears to have been little or no negotiation on the cost or the customized nature of the system. For example, well over a thousand radios are to be leased by the County under the contract; yet recent information indicates that the radios should be used mainly for command and control. A thousand radios for command and control would be more appropriate in Los Angeles or Iraq than in Anderson County.

Let me add something here that I’m sure will raise some eyebrows and blood pressures. I have known and respected volunteer firefighters since I was a child. My Dad was the chairman of a public service commission that oversaw several volunteer fire departments. I spent a lot of time hanging around fire houses while Dad talked to the guys about their problems and their needs. But the recent attitude I’ve seen among some of  those responders, both paid and volunteer, recently has been a little arrogant. No one lacks an understanding of the value of the service such men and women provide.

But let’s keep one thing in mind. None of you were drafted. Those who are true volunteers chose to serve in this manner, and thank you. Those who make their living at it also made a choice, and thank you. But let’s drop this aggrieved act that somehow someone is trying to place you all at a disadvantage. Such an attitude is disingenuous and, frankly, dishonest.

There is more to this issue than simply giving you what you want. There is another side of the equation, and that is one of economy and efficiency.

It is a valid question, and in most other counties, would have been addressed with a lot less trouble and histrionics than has gone on in this County in recent weeks.

A second issue is the issuance of a membership to County Council in the recently opened Chiquola Club. These memberships are to an exclusive club that is being touted as a place to do business, to make contacts, to rub elbows with the high and mighty in the community and in business.

Without a whole lot of pontificating ( I can hear the sighs of relief out there now) let me just say that I can’t imagine another county in this state where such a gift would even be tendered to the Chairman of the County Council, much less be accepted. To accept them from a business that is also seeking consideration on the use of public parking is extraordinary. Quid pro quo? Perhaps, perhaps not. But appearances count, at least in most places. One has to wonder if they count here.

Much has been made of Chairman Waldrep’s method of publicly returning the card to County Administrator Joey Preston in open session of the Council. There has been a great outcry that Waldrep was trying to embarrass Preston. Good luck with that, Mr. Chairman. 

So what do the two situations have in common? In neither case was the slightest attention to even the appearance of impropriety.

And folks, it seems to me that’s business as usual in Anderson County.






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