News Archive

(4705) Week of Nov. 23, 2005

Williamston plans Christmas Spectacular
GWBA ornament features Dr. Smith
GWBA vehicle giveaway promotion canceled
Piedmont parade to honor veterans
PERC to meet
Whitefield to offer Thanksgiving Meal
Pelzer EMS needs more space
Mistrial declared in murder trial
Counterfeit bills circulated locally
West Pelzer plans Christmas parade
Piedmont deaths being investigated

Williamston plans Christmas Spectacular

The Town of Williamston will host Christmas activities throughout the month of December that will include several special events this holiday season. An opening night Christmas Spectacular is planned to kick off the holiday events at 6 p.m. November 26. The event will be held in front of the Municipal Center and will feature holiday entertainment as well as officially kicking off the opening of the Christmas Park and Deck the Halls events.

“Deck the Halls” at the Williamston Municipal Center will feature themed decorated Christmas trees. 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. Ladies of First Baptist Church in Williamston will provide holiday entertainment. Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy will welcome guests and officially proclaim the lighting of the Christmas Park.

Whispering Winds Carriage Company will offer carriage rides from the Williamston Municipal Center through the Christmas Park on Saturday only. This special event will be $5 per person. Santa will kick off his first night in the Scout Hut arriving on board the antique fire engine courtesy of The Williamston Fire Department.

Santa will be in the scout hut from 6 to 9 p.m. nightly through December 23. Photos with Santa will be offered with a variety of print sizes and options from Laurie Phillips of Belton.

 The Town of 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.

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 will 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. The events are being organized this year under the theme “Keep Christmas Alive,” Hyder said. For more information on any of the Williamston events call Hyder at the Williamston Municipal Center at (864) 847-7473.

GWBA ornament features Dr. Smith

The Greater Williamston Business Association now has 2005 Collectors Christmas Ornaments available. 

The 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 to meet demand.

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

The ornament is the first to recognize an individual associated with  the community. Previous ornaments have focused on landmarks and park scenes. Recent ornaments have featured Palmetto High School Mustang 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 2005 ornament featuring Dr. Smith is available at Greater Williamston Business Association member locations for $5. 

A limited supply of retired ornaments is also available for $7 each for persons wishing to complete their collection. Special four packs or previously issued ornaments are available for $25. Retired ornaments are available at MV Pizza and The Journal.

GWBA vehicle giveaway promotion canceled

Members of the Greater Williamston Business Association have decided to cancel the giveaway of a 2006 Ford Mustang or Ford /F150 pickup citing lagging ticket sales and two hit and run incidents in which the parked 2006 Mustang was hit by vehicles in which the driver left the scene.

GWBA president Dave Maddox said after the second hit and run incident was reported to the sponsor, a local dealership, the business withdrew their sponsorship of the promotion in which the winner of a drawing could have their choice of the two vehicles.

Persons who entered the promotion with a $10 donation can get their money back, Maddox said. Anyone who purchased tickets can come to MVP Pizza in Town Square Center in Williamston and turn in their ticket stub for a refund. No refunds will be honored without the original ticket being exchanged, Maddox said.

The promotion offered a 1 in 4000 chance to win either of the vehicles and the drawing was to be held following the Williamston Christmas parade. Less than half of the expected number of tickets were sold, Maddox said. Proceeds from the promotion were to help fund a downtown revitalization project the GWBA is sponsoring.

Other business discussed during the regular monthly meeting of the GWBA included the snowman display for the Christmas Park, sales of collectors Christmas ornaments and other items.

The first order of the new 2005 ornament featuring Dr. Smith on his bicycle already sold out. A second shipment of the popular item is now available at GWBA locations for $5 each. A limited supply of older retired ornaments is also available from MV Pizza and The Journal.

GWBA members also heard from Williamston Police Chief David Baker who told them an arrest had been made in a counterfeit operation in which several area businesses had seen counterfeit bills.

Baker also said that the department will have extra patrols and more presence during the holidays and that any business that wants additional patrols may request it.

Maddox said the organization should elect new officers in January.

GWBA members also heard from Dan Davis, who asked the organization to consider hiring him as a director for the organization, focusing on promotion and membership.

Davis, who has a background in festival and community development, was instrumental in helping Helen Ga. develop as a tourist destination.

Davis was asked to present a detailed proposal at a later date. 

Piedmont parade to honor veterans

The annual Piedmont Christmas Parade, presented by the Bonnes Amies Club of Piedmont, will have the theme “Christmas Treasures” and will honor area veterans on Saturday, December 10 at 11 a.m.. 

“The parade is devoted to the honor of the living treasures we have in our veterans,” organizers said.  “Piedmont and the surrounding area have offered up sons and daughters throughout our country’s history into the service of the military.  So many have served, both in peacetime and in war, and all of our veterans have honored us through that service.  So many times we think of our soldiers, but it is difficult to have a time and place to make our appreciation and support known directly to them.  The Piedmont Christmas parade will give all of us a chance to honor and support our veterans,” an organizer said. 

“We are indebted to our veterans from World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, and operations such as Desert Storm and all military personnel, active or retired, engaged in wartime or peacetime duties. We are inviting all active and retired members of the armed services to come out on December 10th and allow Piedmont to give you the honor and attention you so richly deserve,” an organizer said.

All veterans who attend will be highlighted with an honored position in the parade, followed by a luncheon at the First Baptist Church Social Hall. 

Anyone who would like to see a veteran honored should invite them to participate.  Veterans should plan to meet at 10:00 a.m. in the parking lot of SunTrust Bank in Piedmont.  The vehicles transporting veterans during the parade will be parked in the adjacent grocery store parking lot. 

The Bonnes Amies Club urges all churches, businesses, bands, beauty queens, and organizations to participate. 

“This is a great way to advertise and let the people of the community see who you are. The sounds of the season, the decorated floats, the candy, and the happy smiles on children’s faces waiting for Santa to arrive all help to get us into the Christmas spirit,” organizer Betty White said. Applications are available at the Piedmont Fire Department and at local businesses.

“Wrap up in your holiday sweaters and come out and enjoy the Piedmont Christmas Parade. Be sure to bring your American Flags to wave at the veterans to show them your support of their service to our town and country,” White said.

For additional information call White at 845-5543.

PERC to meet

Volunteers working with The Piedmont Emergency Relief Center (PERC) will hold a meeting November 28 at 7 p.m. at the Piedmont Community Building. Anyone interested in finding out more about the organization is invited to the meeting.

The local relief organization makes available donated food and other items to persons in the Piedmont area who are in need.

PERC recently joined with Angel Food Ministries offering a box of food for $25. Other specials are offered each month.

Individuals and local businesses are invited to sponsor a box of food that can be given to a needy family, organizers said.

The Piedmont Emergency Relief Center is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 to noon. 

Organizers are in the process of develping a board of directors and building a volunteer base.

For more information on programs offered or to volunteer with PERC contact Program Director Jed Daughtry at 906-7351.

Whitefield to offer Thanksgiving Meal

The 14th annual Community-wide Thanksgiving meal will be held Thanksgiving Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Whitefield Baptist Church Multipurpose Room. Each year more than 1,000 meals are prepared for needy families in the area.

Volunteers are needed to bring food, serve, deliver or set up tables. A Prayer Circle will begin at 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning and preparation of plates will begin at 7:30 a.m. The meal is the traditional  turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn, dressing and gravy, cranberry sauce and desserts.

Anyone who is unable to prepare a meal or needs a meal is invited. Also  anyone who knows of a family or individual who needs or would appreciate the meal but does not have transportation can contact the church.

Tables will be set up for those who wish to eat at the church or meals may be picked up, organizers said. Persons who do not have transportation and need a meal delivered can call the church office at 226-6384. Anyone who would like to help or make a monetary donation to help with expenses in preparing the meal can call  the Whitefield Church office at 226-6384.

Pelzer EMS needs more space

By Stan Welch

While the Pelzer Rescue Squad has outgrown its facilities, and are looking into possibilities for expansion, the squad’s Chairman of the Board Dan Durham stresses that the squad has no intention of leaving Pelzer.

“We are the Pelzer Rescue Squad and we intend to stay that way,” said Durham in a recent interview. “We do need to either refurbish or replace our facility, but we are working with the town on that.”

The facility currently in use has been the squad’s home for forty years. One of the problems is the fact that ambulances continue to increase in size. “Every time we get a new truck, it’s bigger and higher than the old one, so we have to jack up our shed where we park the trucks,” said Durham. “We’re at the point where the roof is just about level, and now the water stands more and we’re getting rot.”

As a result, the shed needs to be torn down. “The problem is that in order to rebuild it in compliance with existing codes, we would have to fireproof the entire wall the new shed attaches to.” The problems associated with that, as well as considerations of future needs is causing the squad to consider other alternatives, such as a new facility.

The squad runs three front line trucks, or ambulances fully equipped to respond to emergencies, at all times. They also have three new wheelchair vans, which are used to transport non-ambulatory patients for treatment or other medically related reasons. There are also 5 or 6 stretcher vans, used for convalescence transports.

It’s not just vehicular demands for more space that the squad faces. “We have approximately forty people serving the squad, either full time or part time. We have basic and intermediate EMTs, and there’s at least one paramedic on each of the frontline trucks,” said Durham.

Durham concedes that a new free standing facility might best address the squad’s needs. “We would work with the town on that, should we decide to go in that direction. We had spoken with former mayor Page Henderson and the Council earlier this year. He asked us for a proposal, and we do not have that prepared to present at this time. But we are committed to the Town of Pelzer, and we intend to stay here.”

Pelzer’s new mayor, Kenneth Davis, who was installed during the Pelzer Town Council meeting last week, said that he supports the expansion being considered by the Pelzer EMS.

Davis said Pelzer EMS is considering property located between the Odd Fellows building and the Pelzer ballfield on Hwy. 20 between Pelzer and West Pelzer for a new building to house the squad.

Davis said he was told the rescue squad has outgrown their present building and needs additional space. He also said the town may also consider moving the town offices to the present Pelzer EMS building, if their building project comes through.

The Pelzer Rescue Squad also maintains service in the Powdersville area, and has for several years. 

Mistrial declared in murder trial

The murder trial of a man accused of killing his wife and burning her body ended in a mistrial November 18, as the result of a hung jury. 

 Johnny Ray Gambrell was accused of the murder of his wife Lois Bridges Gambrell, 44, in 2004, after she was reported missing. Gambrell was reported missing on August 23, 2004. After law enforcement officers found a large bloodstain in her Williamston home and the remains of her body in the back yard, an investigation subsequently led to her husband’s arrest on September 2 of that year.

 Forensic evidence presented by Solicitor Crissy Adams, consisting of charred bone fragments, failed to convince at least one juror, resulting in the declaration of a mistrial after seven hours of deliberation. At least one juror stated that more DNA information was needed to confirm that the bone fragments were from Ms. Gambrell. He also cited the lack of witnesses who could testify to the actions of Johnny Ray Gambrell.

 Adams said that she feels the state’s case is a strong one, and a retrial will be scheduled; perhaps as early as the next session of court, in two weeks. In the meantime, Johnny Ray Gambrell remains in the Anderson County Detention Center.

Counterfeit bills circulated locally

The Williamston Police Department working in conjunction with the Secret Service made three arrests in connection with a counterfeit operation at a motel in South Greenville County recently. Several bills which were reproduced from a computer and printer set up at a hotel on Hwy. 25 were circulated at various business locations in the Williamston area.

James Michael Ellis, 125 Camelot Dr., Belton and two female accomplices were arrested.

Ellis may be facing “hundreds of Federal charges,” Williamston police chief David Baker said. At least ten of the Federal charges are from incidents in the Williamston area.

The charges involve eleven incidents involving counterfeit bills amounting to approximately $400, primarily in 20s, which were circulated to a local bank and several businesses. First Citizens Bank, Enmark, Burger King, and Hardees each saw some of the bills, Baker said.

Other incidents investigated by the Williamston Police Department include: 

Nov. 10 - Sally Williams Burgess, 23, 12 Hardy St. Williamston, reported an 18 inch Homelite chainsaw valued at $100 removed from the residence. Sgt. A. B. Singleton investigated.

Nov. 11 - Billy Jerome Thomas, 46, 110 Gossett St., Williamston, was arrested for shoplifting and public disorderly conduct after allegedly taking a bottle of MD20/20 from the Sav Way, 309 East Main St. C. J. Sanders investigated.

Nov. 4 - Heather Evatt, 12 Virginia Dr., Williamston, reported a pressure washer valued at $300 taken from the residence. J. T. Bauer investigated.

Nov. 17 - Audel Mora Ramirez, 23, 102 Carley Court, Pelzer, was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident, and no drivers license after being involved in an accident with a bicycle in the West Main shopping center. Reports state that when officers arrived, they found a bicycle and a 16 year old male lying in the parking lot.  A Direct TV van pulled across and blocked the vehicle from leaving the scene. J. H. Kirby investigated.

Nov. 18 - Beverly Jean Vaughn, 35, 35 Hamilton St., Williamston, was arrested for speeding and driving under suspension more than first after a 1999 Chevy Lumina was observed travelling 29 mph in a 25 mph zone on Main St.

Nov. 7 - Brenda Faye Solesbee, 45, 114 Bragg Drive, Williamston, reported $250 in damage to a 2005 Kia which appeared to have been scratched on the drivers side in two places by a key. P. D. Marter investigated.

Nov. 6 - Sandy Hostetler, 32, 37 Middleton Blvd. Apts reported damage to a 2003 Pontiac Aztek which appeared to have been damaged by a key on the passenger side of the vehicle causing approximately $400 in damage. P. D. Marter investigated.

Nov. 5 - Gregory Osborne Allen, 24, 811 Eastwood St., Anderson, was arrested for driving under the influence, improper vehicle license and no proof of insurance after a 1988 Delta 88 Oldsmobile was observed on Greenville Dr. Sgt. A. B. Singleton, Lt. J. T. Motes investigated.

Nov. 6 - Willie Etta Hall, 41, 161 N. Major Rd., Belton, was arrested for no vehicle license, driving under suspension, and no proof of insurance after a 1990 Ford Ranger was observed on E. Main St. with no vehicle license displayed. Lt. J. T. Motes investigated.

Nov. 6 - Cecil Nicole Hawkins, 21, 2288 Cannon Bottom Rd., Belton, was arrested for unsafe equipment and driving under suspension after a red Mitsubishi was observed with a broken windshield. G. R. Heydrich investigated.

Nov. 5 - James Darby Charping, 28, 127 B Williams St., Pelzer, was arrested for disorderly conduct after being observed near the restroom in Mineral Spring Park. P. D. Marter investigated.

Nov. 1 - Two juvenile females were arrested for possession of a controlled substance after allegedly taking generic lortab at Palmetto High School. Cpl. D. W. Bryant investigated.

Nov. 1 - A 14- year-old female at Palmetto High School was arrested and suspended from school after being observed unable to walk or talk correctly and appearing to be under the influence. Cpl. D. W. Bryant investigated.

Nov. 2 - Joshua Paul Garrett, 29, 113 Center St., Williamston, was arrested for driving under the influence after a vehicle was observed driving left of center on Main St. P. D. Marter, Sgt. A. B. Singleton investigated.

Nov. 1 - Pamela Vaughn, 1211 Holiday Dam Rd., Belton, reported being threatened over the telephone while working at Sav Way, Williamston. P. D. Marter investigated.

Oct. 27 - Jarrett Adam Hamby, 23, 4 West 2nd St., Williamston, was arrested for driving under suspension after a 1991 Chevy Cavalier was being observed on Main St..

Oct. 29 - David Maddox reported someone backed into a 2006 Ford Mustang belonging to Foothills Ford, Belton while the vehicle was parked in the West Main shopping center causing $300 in damage. Sgt. J. H. Kirby investigated.

Oct. 28 - Chad Everett Pulliam, 35, 400 Lakewooed Dr., Anderson, was arrested for trespassing after officers were dispatched to 100 W. Main St. P. D. Marter, Sgt. Z. E. Gregory investigated.

West Pelzer plans Christmas parade

The Town of West Pelzer will hold the Fourth Annual Christmas Parade,  on Saturday, December 3 at 3 p.m.

There is no fee for entries in the parade, which West Pelzer Mayor Peggy Paxton said she hopes will be the town’s largest yet. 

Call West Pelzer Town Hall at 947-6297 for information.

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.

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.

Piedmont deaths being investigated

Greenville County Sheriff’s Department investigators continue trying to piece together the events that led one of their deputies to discover a small child alone in a home with the bodies of a man and woman.

 A deputy responded to the Hwy. 20 address after a local day care called to say that a child had not been picked up at the end of the day Monday, November 21. The deputy arrived at the address and saw another small child lookout the window.

 The deputy opened the door, and saw what appeared to be blood. He retrieved the child, whose name and age have not been released, and left the home, at which time he called for backup. The name and age of the child left at the day care has also been withheld.

 The two bodies were subsequently discovered in separate rooms of the house. No cause of death has been made public, as investigators continue to look for leads.








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