News Archive

(4806) Week of Nov. 29, 2006

County taking FILOT funding from schools to cover solid waste
Schools to feel effects of  FILOTs
Landfill reduction process shows promise
District One Board informed on FILOT, state report cards

School District One hears audit report
Subway celebrity Jared Fogle makes local appearance
Teacher recovering from crash
Holiday Fair Friday in Pelzer
Piedmont parade Dec 9
Register now for Williamston parade
Thieves strike area homes
Seems to Me . . . Landfill deal still stinks

County taking FILOT funding from schools to cover solid waste

By Stan Welch

The meeting of Anderson County Council last week resulted in the startling disclosure that the County plans to withhold from the school system twice as much of the fees in lieu of taxes it collects as it did last year.

In a maneuver that District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson called “a sneaky, outrageous grab of funds,” an amendment to an existing general obligation bond which would allow the County to withhold an additional fifteen per cent of the fee in lieu of taxes generated by the  multi-county industrial and business park was proposed by County Administrator Joey Preston.

There were several educators and school board members present. While they acknowledge the county’s authority to increase the amount of FILOTs it withholds, they all stated their dissatisfaction with how the proposal was handled.

Chief among their concerns was the lack of communication by the county as to their intentions. According to some of them, the first increase in withholdings from the schools, which went from five to fifteen percent in 2004, was done after the school boards had adopted budgets based on the more favorable revenue figures.

County Financial Analyst Gina Humphreys stated that the additional fifteen per cent withholding would generate $2 million for the County, with approximately seventy per cent of that coming from the schools.

“We’ll be taking it from one fund and putting it in another,” said Humphreys. “Without this, solid waste fees either have to go up or services have to be reduced.”

Wilson, who has consistently questioned the performance of all the County’s enterprise funds, which are designed to be self-supporting, asked, “Are we not admitting that we are shuffling funds around carelessly? This County has experienced tremendous growth, yet here we are shuffling funds from place to place, robbing Peter to pay Paul. We’ve just admitted that we can’t handle our solid waste fund, even though we sold the landfill to remove a financial burden from us.”

Wilson cast the lone dissenting vote in the Council’s first reading approval of the amendment to the ordinance. A public hearing will be held prior to final approval.

In other business, Wilson asked for a further explanation of the County’s give away of spoil dirt produced by the excavation of the Starr C&D landfill. Environmental Services Director Vic Carpenter offered two explanations. He first explained that the dirt had no intrinsic value, because it was neither clay, nor suitable for compacting. He said that the County had tried to sell the dirt to five different contractors, all of whom declined it. The dirt has been given to a site in Georgia where a supermarket is being built.

Carpenter then added that the County couldn’t sell the dirt anyway, because it didn’t have a DHEC mining permit. He added that over fourteen hundred truck loads had been hauled away, and that giving the dirt away had saved the County approximately $114,000.

In a surprisingly quiet vote, Council voted 4-2 to give first reading approval to an ordinance that would abolish the County’s blue laws. Absolutely no discussion took place on the matter at all.( Editor’s note: District Six Councilman Bill Dees was absent Tuesday night, so all votes reported will reflect a total of six Council members voting.)

Another ordinance received first reading; an ordinance which would require those addressing the Council on behalf of others, and for compensation, to reveal any persons whom they are representing. The issue arose during a recent public squabble over the purchase of the old Kroger property, to be renovated for County offices.

Wilson opposed the provision, saying, “I know on a personal level what sort of retribution people can suffer when they come to speak before Council.” She also remarked on the irony of the Council being so concerned with full disclosure, saying, “I have been trying for years to get full disclosure on the operations of the County. I find it bizarre that this Council require citizens to disclose their associations and who they may be representing.”

A discussion ensued of a resolution to support an alternative hot air balloon event in Anderson, following on the heels of Freedom Weekend Aloft’s decision to return to Greenville County. Wilson offered an amendment to limit any funds to ATAC monies, with no funding from the general fund of the County. She also included providing the facility and volunteers to the event. The amendment was seconded by Chairman Larry Greer, but the final vote was 1-5.

Apubilc hearing on the FILOT proposal is set for the Tuesday, Dec. 5 meeting of Anderson County Council.

Schools to feel effects of  FILOTs

By Stan Welch

A recent and controversial proposal to increase the County’s withholding of FILOT funds from the school districts has educators in an uproar, as much over the method the county employed as over the actual loss of funds.

Randy Price, a member of the Anderson County School Board, who attended last Tuesday night’s Council meeting, said his biggest issue is the lack of communication between the county administration and the school boards and districts. “No one questions the County’s right to the money, but they simply haven’t communicated with anybody. In 2004, the county increased the percentage of the FILOTs withheld from five to fifteen per cent. They did so after the school boards had adopted budgets based on the lower rate of withholding. That caused a lot of trouble for us, and there was no need for it.”

Price went on to say that it was largely by chance that a few school officials learned of this year’s proposed increase in the withholding of the FILOT monies from the schools. “Some Council members were good enough to inform us this time, but by and large, the same thing happened again. I have the feeling that this is a done deal, and that it was when we walked in here tonight.”

Even with the additional notice, and with various representatives of the educational community planning to address the December 5 public hearing on the issue, the impact of  percentage increase will be immediate and considerable.

District One Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler reports that his district will lose almost $200,000 from its existing budget. That figure reflects only the most recent increase in withholding. It doesn’t reflect the first increase of ten percent withholding that occurred in 2004.

“That is the equivalent of five teachers’ salaries and benefits, or approximately the amount of money that the basic student cost figure of $2290 in South Carolina would consume for between eighty-five and ninety students in the district. Last year, that revenue was immediately withdrawn from us. I assume that will be the case again this year,” Dr. Flowler said.

Speaking at last Tuesday night’s Council meeting, District Four school board member Tom Dobbins challenged the Council, saying that the increased withholding is in effect a tax increase. “We will not meet our maintenance of effort without these funds, so taxes will have to increase. This is a back door tax increase. Make no mistake. You are voting for a tax increase if you support this measure.”

Fowler, who also attended the Council meeting, agreed in a recent telephone interview. “When the County went from five to fifteen per cent last time, all the superintendents sent Mr. Preston a letter expressing our concerns over the loss of this revenue source. Now, they have doubled the figure. Clearly, this is a back door tax, which is what happens when one body tries to force another to take an action that they don’t want to take themselves.”

Various laws conflict

The implications are significant. Any school District which fails to attain its maintenance of effort, which is essentially an un-funded but mandated standard of investment in the schools, it has two choices: to seek a waiver of its standard for that year, or to potentially lose all funding from the state.

Maurice Lopez, the chief financial officer for District Four, explained that the various laws concerning education and funding “ are butting heads with each other now.”

He also reported that a school district in the southern end of the county failed to meet its maintenance of effort recently. “They would have had to increase their taxes by twenty mills to make up the difference. Luckily, I have never known the state to withhold its funding over the failure to maintain.”

He explained that the Education Funding Act provides that the County’s assessed value is tied to an index of tax paying ability. This means that school districts with less ability to pay, due to lower population or less industry, pay a lower percentage of the base student cost. That cost is $2290 per student this year in S.C.

For example, District Four receives sixty-one per cent of its base student cost from the state, due to its ability to raise the thirty nine per cent difference. District One gets eighty one per cent from the state, while paying the additional nineteen per cent through property taxes. So if there are five thousand students in the district, at a base cost of $2290 per student, for a total base cost of $11,450,000, then District One has to generate that amount through property taxes.

On the other hand, the Education Improvement Act puts in place the maintenance of effort provisions, which uses a complicated formula to determine the minimum amount a given school district must invest in its educational system. Also complicating the mosaic process that is educational funding, is the existence of and competition for special education funding, federal programs and revenues and other factors that enter the picture.

“That’s why educational funding is the most frustrating and difficult aspect  of the school system for many parents to understand. A lot of us who work with it all the time want to pull our hair out sometimes,” said Dr. Fowler.

In addition, various incentives provided for by law, in order to assist economic development efforts, can run counter to those educational mandates. Fees in lieu of taxes, for example, provide a significant reduction in tax rates to entice industry, then allow those industries to pay a set fee over a number of years.

While some of those funds are usually earmarked for education, recent court rulings in a case involving schools in Horry County have reinforced the County’s right to use all FILOT funds for infrastructure purposes. The County used virtually all FILOT monies in the county to construct roads, water, sewer and other infrastructure for a proposed mall. The school board sued to retain its funding and was defeated.

 TriCounty impacts still felt

Other factors may also be at work in this particular case. Promises that Anderson County’s 1997 sale of the Big Creek landfill to Allied Waste, Inc., instead of following through with its commitment to the TriCounty Regional Landfill, would save the County tens of millions of dollars not only haven’t materialized; but the County is now apparently forced to seek revenues from other  sources to cover shortfalls in the county’s solid waste operations.

County financial analyst Gina Humphreys said at last week’s Council meeting that the revenues to be taken from the FILOTs are needed to offset revenue shortfalls in the solid waste fund. According to the County’s official website, the budget for the solid waste fund last year (‘05-’06) was $3,881,395.

 A settlement of the lawsuit over the abandoned TriCounty Regional Landfill in the fall of 2004 resulted in a three way split of the monies escrowed in 1994 by Anderson, Pickens, and Oconee Counties to finance the project’s construction.

Despite the terms of the original intergovernmental agreement between the three counties, which called for severe penalties against any county withdrawing from the agreement, Anderson County, which was instrumental in dismantling the regional landfill project, received an equitable three way split of the monies reimbursed. The County was also assured a third of the proceeds of any subsequent sale of the land.

It is the disposal of that land that has been delayed by a lack of access to the property. Three members of a local family have fought Pickens County for more than a decade to be compensated for the access the county currently uses to reach a wastewater treatment plant nearby, while also asserting control of the access to the 512 acre tract originally intended for the regional landfill.

Joe Kelly and his two children, James Kelly and Juanita Durham, informed Pickens County in the early 1990’s that the land in question had no access attached to the deed. As recently as this January, they restated that claim and demanded compensation for the access that Pickens County has, according to Kelly, usurped in order to reach a water treatment plant.

“They still use my road to go to the treatment plant. I took this case to court once and a judge upheld me. There’s three pieces of land that make up that entryway, and either me or my children own all of them. There is absolutely no access to that property, so I sure don’t know how they plan to develop it down in there,” said Kelly in a telephone interview this week.

Earlier this year, Anderson County administrator Joey Preston reported that the land would appraise at between $10,000 and $25,000 per acre, making the property worth between $8 million and $15 million currently. Said Kelly, “I reckon I should up my price a good bit, if that’s what they think their’s is worth.”

The dispute over the issue of right of way has delayed any sale or development of the land, and has denied Anderson County a source of funds to continue to cover shortfalls in its solid waste enterprise fund.

Apubilc hearing on the FILOT proposal will be held at the Tuesday, Dec. 5 meeting of Anderson County Council.

Landfill reduction process shows promise

By Stan Welch

In the early 1990’s, when the TriCounty Regional Landfill was moving through the concept stage towards reality, a key component of the project involved plans for extensive research into new technologies for managing solid waste.

The shortcomings involved in simply burying garbage were widely recognized. Those shortcomings had played a large role in DHEC’s preference for regional landfills.

When the regional deal collapsed, the research component was lost, despite vague promises by Allied Waste, Inc. that such research would be conducted at the Anderson Regional Landfill.

Several years later, officials of the Horry County Solid Waste Authority traveled to Clemson on a fact finding mission to explore other possibilities for managing the solid waste.

While there, they met Dr. Annel K. Greene, who was working on a promising method for significantly reducing the volume of solid waste in a landfill. This reduction would be achieved by accelerating the rate of decomposition by use of a pre-treatment oxidation process, followed by a microbial degradation stage.

Several months later, HCSWA and Clemson University announced a joint project, whereby the process would be installed and tested at the Horry County site. According to confidential documents obtained by The Journal, containing monthly reports from the summer of 2005, the process is meeting or surpassing all expectations.

A spokesperson for HCSWA told The Journal that the volume of the waste has been reduced by as much as fifteen to sixty per cent by the pre-treatment process. Such a reduction in volume can greatly expand the life of a landfill, by years if not decades.

“The amount of fiber in the waste stream is a key factor. In our tourist  oriented economy, we get as much as sixty to sixty-five per cent of fiber in our waste stream. This process is very effective in reducing the volume of that stream.”

Another benefit of the process is that it can be used to increase methane production. “We can produce methane on demand,” said the spokesperson. “Rather than have to wait on the waste to just sit there and rot, producing the gas, we can trigger the production. This offers great possibilities.”

HCSWA, like ARL, sells methane to the local utility in order to generate electricity.

The details of the process are confidential, and Clemson University is currently seeking a patent on the machine and the process. The reports indicate additional testing and research continues in order to tweak the process, increasing its efficiency and decreasing the associated costs.

District One Board informed on FILOT, state report cards

Newly elected Anderson School District One Board of Trustees Wendy Tucker and Doug Atkins and returning members, Fred Alexander and Nancy Upton, were sworn into their positions during the regular monthly meeting of the board Tuesday.

The board unanimously voted Alexander to return to the chair position, Nancy Upton as vice chair and Joe Pack as secretary.

Upton and Pack were also selected to serve on the Career and Technology Center Board and Pack was selected to serve as the District One representative on the Anderson County Alternative School Board.

Once the formalities were finished, board members got down to business which included hearing a yearly audit report, first reading on a school bullying policy and discussion on the county’s plan to reduce the funding received by the schools from fee in lieu payments by local industry.

In the audit report, David Phillips of accounting firm Greene, Finney and Horton, reported that Anderson School District One has received an unqualified opinion, which is the best opinion the district can receive and that the balances and amounts in the financial statements are materially correct.

Phillips said that the District general fund balance had increased by $1 million to $4.7 million, which is approximately 11 percent of operating expenditures. He said it is a little on the low end of the GFOA recommended 10 percent to 20 percent and recommended it be increased to around 15 percent.

In discussions on the fee in lieu of tax (FILOT) changes being implemented by the County, Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler said without notice to the school districts, the county is planning to reduce the amount of revenue provided to schools from the fee in lieu payments made to the county by local industry.

Last year the county reduced the amount to school districts from 5 percent to 15 percent and this year they are proposing to go from 15 percent to 30 percent reduction.

According to Fowler, District One will see a reduction of approximately $196,270, while County wide the funding reduction will amount to approximately $2 million. In District One it will take 116 mills to make up the difference.

Fowler said the funding will come directly out of the current budget. Only one industry in District One, Bosch, is affected by the FILOT change.

A public hearing on the FILOT proposal is set for Tuesday, Dec. 5 at the Anderson County Council meeting which starts at 6 p.m.

Board Chairman Alexander said that school officials have asked to be included in fee in lieu discussions with industry, but have never been invited to participate.

“They are taking money away from  our school district,” he said. “We then have to raise taxes.”

“It is not good for Anderson District One,” Dr. Fowler said.

The Board unanimously approved first reading on three policies involving bullying, food service and nutrition and physical education.

According to Jane Harrison, Director of Elementary Education, the JICFFA policy on bullying is in response to the Safe School Climate Act which prohibits harassment intimidation or bullying and must be implemented by Jan. 1 2007.

Harrison said the District has been in the proceess of establishing a policy and already had measures in place.

A recent survey in the District showed 96 percent of parents responded that they feel the schools are safe. “We have a very low discipline problem in our classrooms,” Harrison said.

The chosen design for the annual Christmas Card sent out by the District was also presented to the Board. Powdersville Middle student Anthony Berendsen designed the art.

Dr. Fowler explained results of the recent State Report Card to board members. “Our District has risen to the occasion to match the excellent criteria.”

According to Fowler, the EOC goal was to get everybody to proficient.

“The Education Oversight Committee has established an annual rating system for the report card that requires all districts and schools to move 10% of the students from below basic and basic to proficient or advanced. Anderson District One has been able to meet this goal for four consecutive years and maintained an Excellent rating,” Dr. Fowler said.

According to Fowler, the system was set up to identify unsatisfactory results with high standards set by the state legislature with a Harvard Review rating the state the 3rd most difficult in the nation and the assessment tests (PACT, HSAP) rated the 13th most difficult.

According to Fowler, nearby states set their proficient levels to a “C” while SC levels were set to a “B+.”

“Their definition of proficient is lower,” he said. “The requirements also call for a 10 percent jump from basic to proficient with nobody going down,” he said. “The bar went above our head and will go ahead of everybody’s eventually.”

According to Dr. Fowler, the 2006 report card ratings showed no district in the state was able to maintain an excellent rating.

Anderson District was one of only seven of the 85 districts in the state to receive a rating of good. All other scores in the state were average, below average, or unsatisfactory.

Fowler said there were also problems with the State’s reporting of results of the testing this year.

Associate Superintendent David Havird reported that a new school calendar will be presented with school beginning on Tusday, August 21 and ending the first week of June.

The new schedule will result in two weeks of teaching instruction after PACT testing of students. Dr., Fowler said the schedule will hurt test results.

Havird said the State Dept. of Education has been reluctant yo change the PACT test date, even though schools will lose the two weeks of instruction. “It will hurt us test wise,” he said.

The board set the next meeting for January 9 at 7 p.m.

School District One hears audit report

According to David Phillips of accounting firm Greene, Finney and Horton, Anderson School District One received an unqualified opinion, which is the best opinion the district can receive and the balances and amounts in the financial statements are materially correct.

Phillips said that the District general fund balance had increased $1 million to $4.7 million which is approximately 11 percent of operating expenditures. He said it is a little on the low end of the GFOA recommended 10 percent to 20 percent.

Phillips said the three main reasons to maintain the fund balance is to provide cash flow through the second half of the year since property taxes are collected early in the year; to cover significant emergencies and unanticipated expenditures and significant planned expenditures.

“A healthy fund balance can also benefit the district through lower interest rates when issuing debt,” he said.

Phillips said the general fund revenues increased aproximately $5.8 million, or 16 percent over the prior year.

Of that, $4.8 million came from increased State revenue, or increased base student cost for the district’s 9000 students.

Local revenue from increased property taxes amounted to aproximately $1 million.

General Fund expenditures increased aproximately $3.3 million or 8 percent. This consisted of an increase in instruction of $2.1 million, increase in support service of $1.5 million and a decrease in capital outlay of $.4 million.

Phillips said the District Food Service was profitable for the fifth year in a row and that there was a good control of the expenses.

Phillips reported that the District had $9.2 million in cash and investments, $55 million in net capital assets and $3.3 million in receivables and other assets.

Total liabilities amounted to $33 million, with $28.6 million in long term liabilities and $4.4 million in current liabilities such as payroll, accounts payable.

Subway celebrity Jared Fogle makes local appearance

Subway weight loss celebrity Jared Fogle spoke to students at Cedar Grove Elementary School Tuesday morning. The stop was one of two in the upstate in which Fogle stressed the importance of creating a healthy diet, exercise and emotional wellness, expecially during the holiday season.

Fogle lost 245 pounds by eating almost nothing but Subway sandwiches for nearly a year.

The program began with Fogle showing the now famous pair of pants he wore at the height of his weight problem, when he weighed in at 425 pounds.

“It was the result of years and years of poor decision making,” Fogle said, including not listening to his doctors, teachers, parents and others.

Fogle said in first and second grade his weight was normal. About third grade that began to change.

Questioning his audience of elementary school students, Fogle asked how many liked to watch TV, play video games, go on the internet and eat food. All raised their hands.

Fogle went on to explain that he received the “best birthday present ever,” a Nintendo. From there he went from playing games on it for a half hour a day to four hours, then six, and even more on weekends.

He also picked up a bad habit, eating junk food.

“I had one hand on the keyboard or joystick and the other on junk food,” he said. Chips, Coke, ice cream, “I was a junk food fanatic.”

As he went through the fourth and fifth grade, his weight went up and up. He said he was sneaking extra food.

“I didn’t care enough to make a change,” he said.

As he continued through middle school and high school, his weight ballooned out of control.

“I packed on more and more until I was wearing 60 inch pants,” Fogle said. “I couldn’t go to the movies, get in cars, or sit in a desk.”

After high school, Fogle said he attended Indiana University and blamed his weight problems on his parents, teachers and others.

Experiencing related health problems, he decided to take some responsibility for his condition and stumble upon a life changing idea to begin eating as Subway.

He said he lived about 10 steps from a Subway location and after reading the fat content and other information about Subway sandwiches, he decided to try eating two subs each day in hopes of losing some of his weight.

His favorite was turkey without the mayonnaise and cheese and diet Coke or water to drink. Chips were baked.

“It started to work,” he said. “I lost 94 pounds in three months.”

He began exercising, walking just 30 minutes each day, and in one year lost 245 pounds.

A friend did a newpapaper article about him which led to a commercial for Subway.

From there he was asked to appear on national shows like Oprah Winfrey, the Today show and others.

He told the audience that there are major problems with kids putting on weight. “Hopefully you will do everything to make sure you make good decisions,” Fogle said, urging moderation.

When he began eating subs, he usually ate a 6 inch for lunch and a 12 inch for dinner. At the time the choice was white or wheat bread.

Fogle said his favorite sub now is the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki.

He now travels the U.S. and foreign countries promoting the benefits of health choices and speaking for Subway in as many as 200 appearences each year.

As far as being a celebrity, he said “It is surreal, but it is a lot of fun.”

He said he has lost a lot of privacy. “You can’t take yourself too seriously.”

He said it is a different kind of celebrity where “people feel they know you very well.”

Fogle shared his story as part of an overall physical and nutritional education initiative in South Carolina requiring students in kindergarten through fifth grade to participate in 120 minutes of instructional physical eduction.

He was speaking on behalf of Upstate Subway owners. Local owner Gary Horton introduced Fogle.Subway weight loss celebrity Jared Fogle shows the 60 inch waist pants he wore before stumbling upon the idea to eat Subway sandwiches as a way to lose weight. While a college student, he lost 245 pounds by eating almost nothing but Subway sandwiches for nearly a year. Fogle spoke to students at Cedar Grove Elementary School where he stressed the importance of creating ahealthy diet, exercise and emotional wellness, expecially during the holiday season.

Teacher recovering from crash

A School District One teacher is recovering after a weekend vehicle accident in Colleton County that killed her husband. 

Powdersville Elementary School Media Specialist Debbie Fowler is at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, recovering from a broken arm and ankle.

According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, Fowler and her husband Robert were traveling on Highway 64 in Colleton County Saturday evening, heading to Charleston to visit their only child when a car hit them head-on

Authorities said the driver of the car was a teenager who was attempting to pass another car when the collision happened. 

Students at  two District One schools made individual cards wishing Fowler a speedy recovery as well as offering prayers of sympathy.  The cards will be taken to Fowler at MUSC Tuesday afternoon by a volunteer. Fowler, a Pelzer native, was named the WYFF Golden Apple Award 2005 Teacher of the Year.

The accident is still under investigation and no charges have been filed so far. Funeral services for Robert Fowler will take place at 5 p.m. Friday at Robinson Memorial Gardens in Easley.

Holiday Fair Friday in Pelzer

The Town of Pelzer will host its 2nd annual Holiday Fair on Friday, December 1 from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Pelzer Gym.

“There will be lots of vendors and something for everyone,” said Mayor Kenneth Davis.

Door prizes will be given throughout the evening and refreshments will be served. Persons attending are being asked to  bring a non-perishable food item to benefit the local food pantry. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Pelzer Youth Recreation.

For more information, contact Kenneth Davis at 947-1485 or Heather Holcombe at 947-2814.

The Pelzer and West Pelzer Christmas Parade will be held Saturday, December 2. It will begin in West Pelzer and continue into Pelzer along Lebby Street on Hwy. 8, ending just before the John Phibbs bridge.

Also on Saturday, December 2,  from 6 p.m.to 8 p.m., at the gym, the Town of Pelzer will distribute fruit bags to  residents. Residents are asked to bring a coupon supplied by the town to receive one free fruit bag. Christmas music will be provided by Tabernacle Baptist and Pelzer Wesleyan Churches.

Visit Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause on Friday and Saturday evening from 6-8 p.m. through December 23 in the gym.

Piedmont parade Dec. 9

The Piedmont Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday, December 9th at 11a.m.. This years theme will be “Christmas - A Time For Giving”.

The Bonnes Amies Club will sponsor the parade. Organizers ask spectators to bring items for needy families which will be picked up along the parade route. Items needed are: flour, sugar, and canned goods.

Area businesses, churches, organizations, and individuals are encouraged to participate in the parade, as well as Marching Bands, dance groups, school groups, and Boy and Girl Scouts. “The parade is a great opportunity to advertise your business or organization and show your Christmas spirit in the community,” said organizer Betty White.

The club will also sponsor their annual Veterans Reception immediately following the parade at the First Baptist Church social hall. All veterans from any branch of service or any war are encouraged to ride in the parade.

The Bonnes Amies Club will provide the bus or float for the veterans to ride. “It is an honor each year to highlight our veterans who have done and are continuing to do so much for us,” White said.

Miss and Master Merry Christmas will be decided by “penny a vote”, and a float for the winners will be sponsored by the Bonnes Amies.

There will be trophies for the winning floats in several categories. For more information call Betty White @ 845-5543 or Paige Crawford @ 244-3435

Register now for Williamston parade

The Williamston Christmas parade will be held on Dec. 9 starting at 3 p.m. The theme will be “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Chairman Walter Smith says there is no fee to enter the parade, just bring plenty of candy.

The parade will start at the traffic light at the end of Hamilton Street and Greenville Drive and will stop at Calvary Baptist Church.

Registration forms for the Williamston Christmas Parade are available at the city hall. Call city hall at 847-7473 by December 7 to give your name and type of entry if you want to be judged.

Entry numbers will be picked up the day of the parade at Fort Hill Gas Co. on Hamilton St. from 1 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. Judges will be in front of City Hall so show your number at this spot in the parade.

All performances should only be done in front of the judges and must last no longer than three minutes.

Entries that don’t want to be judged can register the day of the parade at Fort Hill Gas Co.

Everyone is asked to proceed through the entire parade this year. Smith says they are looking to have a bigger and better parade again this year. Lineup for the parade will be a double line formed on Hamilton St.

All horses will stay in the rear. Trophies will be given out at the city hall immediately following the parade. Please wait for the announcement of winners. “We are planning some type of entertainment while you wait,” Smith said.

Rain date will be Dec. 16. For more info call Smith at 847-7929.

Thieves strike area homes

Anderson County Sheriffs Deputies investigated numerous thefts across the county during recent weeks. Among them were:

BELTON

Nov. 23 – T.B. Dugan responded to a complaint of assault and battery at 700 Dean Springs Rd., where Dale Baldwin reported that he had been struck in the shin with a four foot level. Baldwin stated that a friend, had struck him after Baldwin tried to get him to help with some work he was doing on his car.

Nov. 24 – R. J. Payne responded to Evans Dr., where James Wilson reported that he had left his truck unlocked with the keys in it overnight, while staying at a friend’s. His 2005 silver Dodge Ram single cab truck was gone.

EASLEY

Nov. 24 – J.J. Jacobs received a report of burglary at 317 Hunt Rd. Gary Hunt reported that someone had broken into a currently vacant residence at that address and stole two mirrors.

Nov. 9 – W.E. Gregory was dispatched to 124 Ballentine Road, where Kameco Robinson reported that someone had broken into his 1994 red Mitsubishi and stolen the car stereo, valued at $100. Damage to the vehicle was estimated at $300.

Nov. 24 – T.L. Chapman responded to 228 Redwood Dr., where Angela Ware reported that someone had entered her home and stolen her new laptop computer, a 17" Dell Inspiron 9400, valued at $2400.

Nov. 25 – J. L. Harris investigated a complaint of theft at 241 Colonial Dr., where Courtney Kelly reported that someone had stolen her wedding ring and engagement ring from her jewelry box in her bedroom.

PELZER

Nov.8 – W.T. Cunningham responded to a complaint at 6907 Highway 29, where Neal Ibra reported the breaking and entering into a storage trailer and the loss of numerous tools as a result.

Nov. 9 – J.A. Frazier was dispatched to 9 Marguerite St., where Stacey Campbell reported that her husband, also named Stacey Campbell, had repeatedly called her after being told not to. He had used obscenities and cursed her. The two are separated.

Nov. 23 – R.M. Cooper investigated a complaint of larceny and damage to property at 4 Burkett St. Stacey Rasmussen reported that someone had stolen several items from the porch of the house she was moving into and had tried to gain entry into the home.

Nov. 23 – J.C. Moore investigated a case of the use of an auto without the owner’s permission. Katie Elgin, of 1608 Easley Hwy., reported that her boyfriend, Oscar Orlando Ordonez, WM,29,5’11", 200 pounds, blk/brn, had taken her 1997 Honda Accord without permission and had not returned it at the time of the police report. She signed a victim’s form.

Nov. 22 – P. D. Marter received a complaint of forgery from Vicky Davis, of 21 Smythe St. Davis said a check drawn on her bank had been forged and cashed at the SavWay on Hwy. 20.

Nov. 25 – J.J. Jacobs and W.T. Cunningham responded to 122 Smith Dr. Nicole Zandh, WF, 23,5’4", 130 pounds, brn/blue,  was arrested and transported to ACDC on charges of DUS and operating an uninsured vehicle. During a subsequent search of a vehicle, a firearm was found under the driver’s seat. The gun was determined to be stolen.

A passenger in the vehicle, Randall Glen Luker, was arrested on an outstanding warrant for pointing and presenting a firearm.

Nov. 24 – J. L. Harris was informed by Dwayne Savage that his black and white 8 month old pit bull Buster had been stolen from the yard at 429 Old River Road.

Nov. 26 – M.D. Campbell responded to 311 Whitten Rd. where Cynthia Moore reported the theft of her car. No details were provided in the police report as to the make, model, color or state of registration of the car.

PIEDMONT

Nov. 7 – M.D. Campbell responded to 103 Briar Ridge East, where Mary Boswell reported that she had been in an argument with her son when he punched out the back driver’s side window of her car.

Nov. 8 – J.L. Harris received a complaint of counterfeit twenty dollar bills being passed at the Pilot gas station. Both bills were discovered in the cash drawer during a shift change. Both bills had the same serial number. They were taken into evidence.

Nov. 8 – J.L. Bergholm was dispatched to 116 King Arthur Dr., where Gary Bannister reported that the rental property at that location had previously been rented to a couple, who were subsequently evicted. A sofa in the house was burned, also damaging the surrounding carpet. Bannister suspected arson, and requested arson investigators to come to the scene.

Nov. 8 – J.J. Jacobs investigated a case of counterfeiting reported at the McDonald’s on Hwy. 153, where a white male, from 40 to 45-years old, attempted to purchase food with the bill. He then left in an older white S-10 pickup.

Nov. 13 – T.L. Chapman responded to 251 River Rd., where John Killett reported the theft of almost $2800 worth of tools from his storage trailer.

Nov. 14 – T.B. Dugan responded to 602 Anderson Rd. to the Dollar General store, where Wanda Wright reported that her truck had been stolen. An unknown suspect was driving it away as she came out to leave work. The truck was a black 1987 S-10 Chevy truck.

Nov. 15 – T.B. Dugan responded to 930 Breazale St. where Kenneth Sweet reported the theft of two dirt bikes valued at $4600. One was a 1990 Kawasaki KX80, green and purple, and the other was a 1998 Kawasaki KX 100 big wheel, also green. Neither bike was in running condition at the time.

Nov. 15 – K.M. Dyal responded to 914 Anderson St. where Timothy Kelly reported that a check he had written for $25 and mailed had been altered to $350 and cashed at a SunTrust branch.

Nov. 24 – W.T. Cunningham received a report of forgery from David Breazeale, who reported that his paycheck had been stolen from his mailbox on Nov. 7 and later used to obtain merchandise in the amount of $131.98 at the Ingles supermarket in Powdersville.

Nov. 25 – T.L. Chapman investigated a complaint of grand larceny at 301 Edmonston Dr. April Breeden reported that while she and her husband were on a cruise, someone broke into their apartment and stole groceries, jewelry, electronics, a big screen TV, motorcycle helmets and leather gear, and various other items valued at more than $10,000.

WILLIAMSTON

Nov. 8 – M.D. Campbell was dispatched to Sandy Lane where Eric Iseli reported the theft of a combination welder/generator/trailer he had rented from United Rental. The unit, valued at $10,000, was taken from a construction site in a new subdivision.

Nov. 26 – J.J. Jacobs responded to 456 Guyton Rd., where Adam Swinehart reported the theft of his 2007 Yamaha 4 wheeler, valued at $5200.

Seems to Me . . . Landfill deal still stinks

By Stan Welch

Some topics, like leftovers during the holidays, just won’t go away. Like leftovers, or garbage, they also ripen and smell worse with the passage of time.

Such a topic is the Anderson Regional Landfill, aka Big Creek, whose stench once again wafted across Anderson County during last week’s County Council meeting. The smell of the landfill, and of the deal that was engineered to make its sale to Allied Waste, Inc. possible, had been buried for the last several years. A recent plan by county administrator Joey Preston to double the County’s withholding of FILOT monies from area schools unearthed a pungent odor, as well as many questions.

FILOTs, or fees in lieu of taxes, are a tax break given to corporations as one step in the never-ending courtship that is economic development. The FILOT significantly reduces the taxes charged to the corporation. Anderson County schools had been receiving large chunks of the FILOTs, and had become quite comfortable with them as one source of revenue.

Then, in 2004, with no notice, and in fact, after the school districts had produced budgets based in part on the availability of FILOT funds, the county tripled their rate of withholding from five to fifteen per cent. Many of the school board members I have spoken to felt like they were ambushed on that deal, receiving no notice of the planned changes. The changes, in fact, came in the middle of the school districts’ fiscal year.

Then, last week, Preston made another proposal to increase that fifteen per cent to thirty per cent, which sounds like doubling the withholding, but which really amounts to a six hundred per cent increase in two years. This time, word of the proposal got out to various educators and school board members, who appeared at the meeting to hear about the proposed grab.

County financial analyst Gina Humphreys explained to the Council that the money, which will remove approximately $1.4 million from the schools, is needed to offset deficits in the county’s solid waste fund.

This is where the landfill starts to stink again. In 1997, approximately a year after starting work as Anderson county  administrator, Joey Preston, with the full support and encouragement of then Council Chairman Clint Wright, as well as others on the Council, sabotaged the TriCounty regional landfill plan; and instead sold Big Creek to Allied Waste for approximately $1.2 million, or less money than this latest proposal would take from the schools.

At the time of the sale of Big Creek, both Preston and Wright touted the benefits of the sale as removing a financial burden from the County, and saving them literally tens of millions of dollars over the coming years. Yet, more than nine years later, the solid waste fund, designed as a self-sufficient enterprise fund, is proposing to rob the school districts to pay its bills.

Yes, the county is clearly authorized to withhold the funds, but the lateness of the hour and the manner in which the proposal has been handled still brings the word ‘rob’ to mind.      

Meanwhile Allied Waste, Inc., a corporation that does billions in business each year, continues to enjoy a sweetheart deal that smells less and less sweet with each passing year.

As part of that deal, Allied Waste, Inc. reportedly pays Anderson County a host fee per ton on all garbage generated outside the county which is disposed of at ARL. That fee alone, if properly accounted for and collected, should go along ways towards putting the solid waste fund in the black. Of course, one question that arises is why does the county have a solid waste fund, or a solid waste function? The idea was to get the county out of the solid waste business.

If the host fees are inadequate to meet the County’s needs, wouldn’t it make more sense to renegotiate and increase them, rather than plunder FILOTs that help finance school operations? After all, Allied is hauling in thousands and thousands of tons of garbage each month from other counties and states, and disposing of it in Anderson County.

Yet, when District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson asked that question, she was told by Preston that the contract still had about ten years to run, and perhaps they could pursue an increase at that time. Let me call you sweetheart, goes the old song.

Meanwhile, Claude Graham, who along with his friend and associate Joey Preston, assembled the Big Creek deal, also receives a royalty based on the tonnage disposed of annually at ARL each year. Wilson has persistently sought information concerning that royalty, which she says is contained under Title 22 of the original sales contract for Big Creek. She’s had about the same luck she usually has when she asks for hard facts from the current administration.

Preston has said that such a section of the contract simply doesn’t exist, although it is mentioned elsewhere in the text of the contract. Graham, for his part, stated under oath, that, five years after the contract was signed, he can’t recall the amount of the royalty.

Based on the annual permitted amount for disposal of 438,000 tons, it seems to me a pretty memorable amount of money. Ten cents a ton would be almost forty four thousand a year, and I’m betting it’s a good bit more than ten cents a ton.

Graham also offered little if any explanation of his sworn testimony that he is paid twenty thousand dollars a year for attending the Council meetings every two weeks, almost ten years after the sale of Big Creek was completed.

I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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