News Archive

(4906) Week of Dec. 6, 2006

Entertainment, special events highlight holiday season
Civil war cannon returned defaced
Budget amendment to allow town bonus
Local rail line service to continue under new ownership
FILOT discussions draw comments
Wilson taking off gloves in bouts with Preston
Deputies investigate thefts, other incidents
GWBA ornaments make great present

Seems to Me . . . A southern tradition (Hunt clubs)

Entertainment, special events highlight holiday season

If you are looking for that something extra to help get you or someone else into the holiday spirit, there are several local options that are sure to help. From lights, live entertainment and refreshments to the spectacle of the Pelzer Light people, the holidays are in full swing.

Visitors to the Williamston Christmas Park can enjoy lights and special displays from more than 70 area businesses, churches, organizations and individuals, living up to this year’s theme which is “Sharing the Season.”

Holiday entertainment in the park will include:

 Dec. 9 - Strong Communities will offer hot chocolate and cookies and John Rutland will entertain.

Dec. 15 - John Cessarich is expected to be broadcasting from the park at approximately 4:30. Joe Greco, Jannie Turner and Catlin Tierce will entertain from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Dec. 16, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  - Local group Revelation will perform. Open Door Ministries will provide hot chocolate and cookies and Strong Communities will provide children’s activities.

Dec. 18 - Entertainment to be announced.

Dec. 19, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. -  418 Dance Group will perform. Redhatters will perform. Pelzer Wesleyan will provide hot chocolate.

Dec. 20, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. - Guthrie Grove Church will sing and provide hot chocolate.

Dec. 22 - Rich Canterella will sing Christmas songs and related stories. Ray Witherington will sing country Christmas.

Dec. 23 - Joe Greco will entertain.

Santa is available for visits in the Scout Hut nightly from 7-9 p. m. A photographer is on hand to capture the special moment, with prints available while you enjoy the park. A portion of the proceeds from photos will go toward renovation of the Scout Hut.

 While in town to see the park, be sure to visit Deck the Halls in the Williamston Muncipal Center. The event features a variety of themed trees decorated by local businesses, organizations and individuals in the hallways of town hall. Hours are Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 6 p.m to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Jan. 1.

This Saturday will also feature three area parades.

The Piedmont Christmas Parade will be held Dec. 9th at 11a.m.. This year’s theme will be “Christmas - A Time For Giving”. 

The Bonnes Amies Club is sponsoring 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.

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 invited to ride in the parade.

The Bonnes Amies Club will provide the bus or float for the veterans to ride.

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

The Williamston Christmas Parade will be held the same day, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. The theme will be “Keep Christ in Christmas.” 

There is no fee to enter the parade and entries are reminded to 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 city hall. To be judged, entries must be registered at city hall by December 7. Call  847-7473, give your name and type of entry. Judges will be in front of City Hall.

Lineup for the parade will be a double line formed on Hamilton St. Trophies will be given out at the city hall immediately following the parade. 

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

The South Greenville Community will also host a parade on December 9 beginning at 2 p.m. The first annual Country Christmas Parade will begin at the Old Hundred Road and Hwy. 418 and end at Old Hundred Road and Reedy Fork Road. For information contact South Greenville Fire Department at 864-243-5650.

Weather permitting, the Light People are out nightly in the Pelzer mill village from 6:30 to 9 p.m. through Christmas Eve. For those who have never been to see the Light People, follow these directions:

From I-85 Exit 32, take Highway 8 toward Pelzer. Travel approximately six miles and go through a traffic light at CVS Pharmacy. Take the third street on the right and follow the traffic.

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be in the Pelzer gym on Friday and Saturday evening from 6-8 p.m. through December 23.

In Piedmont, the home of Ken and Lori Brown located at 5 Charlwood Court in Piedmont is an attraction worth seeing. Featuring 28,000 lights, Ken took a week vacation from work to put them up. It took him approximately 46 hours to complete.

“He does it just for us, not for the recognition or anything like that. But I know how much he loves to do it, and it makes him feel good when people compliment him about it all, “ Lori said.  “This year I decided to call a couple of local papers and get the story out about all his hard work, and how I think our house looks so wonderful.”

The lights are on weekdays from 6-10pm and till 11 or 12 on the weekend. If it’s raining, they may not be on. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day they are on 24 hours.

Civil war cannon returned defaced

The Town of Williamston is investigating a situation involving a rare civil war cannon that belongs to the town which was returned defaced Monday.

The historic cannon was under the care of the Williamston National Guard unit. When town officials were asked about the whereabouts, two town employees were sent to the armory to inquire.

They were told by an unnamed guard member that the cannon had been removed to have a carriage built for it, officials said.

In response, Mayor Phillip Clardy sent a letter stating the the town had on several occasions, tried to locate the historic cannon that was placed in the guard’s custody in 1997. The letter stated that if the cannon was not on the premises of the SC National Guard located on Gossett Drive in Williamston by 9 a.m. on Monday, December 4, it would be reported to the authorities as missing and possibly stolen.

Clardy said that the cannon, which weighs 997 pounds, was returned to the town Monday morning, apparently freshly spraypainted and corked with a piece of wood.

Officials from the state museum were called to verify that the cannon, which is valued at more than $75,000, was the town’s original piece.

The historic cannon is a very rare piece which was built in Rome Ga. in 1862 and features a rifled barrell. It had been restored and bronzed and was fired at the Spring Water Festival in 1997.

A copy of the agreement between the town and the guard states that the town had an agreement with the National Guard Armory allowing them to lease the historic cannon and have it refinished and place at the armory.

The agreement stated that both parties acknowledge that the Town is the owner and allows the cannon to be stored in the armory. It also states that the guard agrees to keep the cannon in a secure and safe storage area inside the armory and agrees to be responsible for all maintenance, repair and upkeep of the cannon.

The agreement states that the guard agrees to not remove the cannon form the site  without written agreememnt of the town and that if it is removed for cleaning purposes or inspection, the guard will first obtain written consent of the town.

The copy of the agreement provided to The Journal is unsigned by town or guard officials.

Clardy said the town was investigating the incident and that another agency may be asked to investigate to determine if the situation warrants charges.

He said the town was told that the cannon was removed from the armory to have a special carriage built for it.

Guard officials were unavailable for comment.

Budget amendment to allow town bonus

Williamston Town Council unanimously approved first reading on the 2007 budget and agreed to make adjustments to the 2006 budget to pay out end of year bonuses to town employees during their regular monthly meeting Monday.

Though town officials failed to budget for it during numerous budget discussions held earlier this year, town employees will receive their annual Christmas bonus.

After considerable discussion Council voted 4-0 to approve the additional pay totaling approximately $7,000. Councilman Greg Cole was not present.

ACOG advisor Joe Newton  advised against the unbudgeted appropriation because it will add to an expected 2006 budget deficit of approximately $70,000. Newton suggested that it could be appropriated out of the 2007 budget and paid in January.

Instead, Council decided to appropriate the funding to be taken from several line items that are expected to be underbudget for 2006.

“I am willing to take the heat,” Mayor Phillip Clardy said. “I know the saacrifice town employees have made.”

Council also authorized a town employee dinner to be held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 14. The dinner for all town employees will be covered dish this year, as opposed to having two separate dinners, one being the traditional trip for the office and administration to one of Greenville’s more expensive restaurants.

Councilman Mariojn Middleton Jr. suggested steaks be prepared and funded by donations.

A budget work session is set for Dec. 18 which will be followed by 2nd reading.

Town officials put off making a decision on the old town hall building until they get additional input from town citizens. A public hearing on the matter is also set for the Dec. 18 meeting.

Mayor Clardy said estimates received indicate the building can be moved at a cost of $50,000 to $75,000.

Councilman Middleton began discussion on the topic stating, “If we don’t have the money now we won’t have it in two weeks. The cost is prohibitive.”

Middleton indicated that the ceiling, wood and bricks could be salvaged but the town is over the 180 day limit set when the property was sold at auction.

Clardy said that funds could be available to help preserve heritage and that the former grant writer had been in the process of finding possible grants.

The purchaser, developer Jim Simpson indicated that he is not presently under pressure to have something done.

“At the moment I don’t have anything pressing,” Simpson told council. “I am here as a citizen first and as a developer second. I’m here to offer support to you.”

A vote on re-hiring the town’s former grant writer ended in a 2-2 standoff with councilmen Middleton and David Harvell voting against a motion by Councilman Otis Scott to reinstate Rusty Burns.

Scott made the motion in an effort to save the cost of advertising for the position.

“In order to save money of advertising I make a motion to reinstate Rusty. You won’t find anyone better,” Scott said.

Councilman Middleton reiterated that the town has no qualifications or salary set for the position.

A vote to advertise the position and to accept applications through Dec. 31also ended in a 2-2 tie, this time with councilmen Middleton and Scott opposed and Councilman Harvell and Mayor Clardy in favor of the proposal.

Council decided 3-1, with Middleton opposed, to approve first reading on the proposed 2 percent hospitality tax, with second reading on exact wording for the ordinance to be held in January.

According to the motion, the ordinance will go into effect in June of 2007.

Council unanimously approved a request made by Johnnie Bell for the Williamston Cemetery Committee to provide funding of $2,500 to go toward improvements at the cemetery.

The group is planning lighting for a new flag pole, landscaping and benches for a small park in the center of the cemetery. Bell also asked for funding for the committee to be included in the 2007 budget.

Bell asked for the funding to come from a recent $8000 grant the town received from the state.

Two discussions involving water customer accounts were discussed in executive session. No action was taken on either issue in open session.

During discussions on the 2007 budget, Mayor Clardy said that the town will be changing software again.

The town is going to the Smithdata accounting software. According to Clardy the town is currently using the DOS version of the software for water accounts and billing. Peachtree accounting software is being used for everything else.

A newer windows version of Smithdata software is now available.

All of the town’s accounting and billing will be done on the new software which will be installed in 2007 at an approximate cost of $35,000.

Local rail line service to continue under new ownership

By Stan Welch

Just months after CSX Transport announced their intention to abandon a 12.74 mile stretch of rail lines from Pelzer to Belton, the line has been purchased by the Greenville & Western Railway Company (GRLW,LLC).

A subsidiary of the Western Carolina Railway Service Corporation, the company closed the purchase of the line on October 20, and assumed operations the next day. According to WRCS president Steven Hawkins, the company’s intentions are to be actively involved in maintaining the area’s railway infrastructure, as well as aggressively participating in economic development efforts to increase business in the Pelzer to Belton corridor.

 “Our company has three purposes. One is to preserve the rail service and infrastructure in the area. Another is to restore rail service by improving and expanding the infrastructure. And third, we want to offer new products and services that haven’t been available before”, said Hawkins in a recent telephone interview.

Hawkins has almost two decades of experience in starting up short line railroads, as well as managerial experience with larger lines, such as Norfolk Southern, which he left to start the Western Carolina Railway service. “I have moved fifteen times in my railroad career to date,” said Hawkins. “But I’m a Greenville native, and I’ve come home, and come home to stay. I’ve moved enough.”

During that career, Hawkins started up five different short line railroads, from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Northwest. “The services and the specifics differ from place ot place, but the function of short line railroads is pretty consistent. I happen to think the potential for this area and short lines is excellent. I’m looking forward to working with Anderson County on its economic development projects, as well as pursuing our own independent goals.” The railroad owns several tracts of land along the railway, sites that are available for transshipping facilities, or for manufacture.

CSX, the previous owner of the line, had announced that it intended to abandon the line. Efforts had been undertaken to prevent that, with Anderson County even considering the possibility of purchasing the line. Hawkins’ entry into the field was timely, to say the least.

Hawkins remains optimistic about the area’s manufacturing potential. “The day of the large mills may be gone, but with initiatives like ICAR and other high tech projects, the possibilities for smaller manufacturing facilities in this area are certainly viable.”

He sees the increased use of rail transport as an important ingredient in that future. “A few years ago, rail freight was in a bad way. But recent changes, such as high fuel prices, a shortage of long haul truck drivers and other market factors have brought rail shipping back into the picture in a big way. I think that will remain the case for many years to come.”

Hawkins sees no reason to limit the use of his line to freight shipment. “We have already been approached by a third party who is curious about the line’s potential for tourism and passenger uses, possibly in conjunction with various area festivals and community events. While we are focusing on developing our freight operations first and foremost, we are certainly open to other possibilities as well. We are excited to be in Anderson County, and we think the future looks very good here.”

Hawkins line provides interchange service with CSX at Pelzer and with Norfolk Southern at Belton, providing links to two of the Southeast’s major railways.

FILOT discussions draw comments

By Stan Welch

In an unexpected refusal to give second reading approval to the measure, County Council Tuesday night denied itself the increased percentage of fees in lieu of taxes (FILOT) revenues that had earlier been proposed.

Following a public hearing which saw not a single speaker in support of the ordinance, which would have allowed the County to withhold thirty per cent of the FILOTs instead of the current fifteen per cent, Council voted 3-3 on the measure.

Council members Wilson, Greer and Dees voted against the measure, while members Tolly, Thompson and McAbee voted for it. The tie vote in effect defeated the measure, much to the delight of the many educators and interested onlookers. Councilwoman Gracie Floyd was out of town on County business. She did however send a letter to be read asking the Council to delay the measure until 2007 to allow the schools time to adjust to the potential loss of revenues.

Several school board representatives from the County, as well as from District One, spoke, including Nancy Upton, who told the Council, “District One has been a great steward of our resources. We have a very lean district office, with minimal staffing.. But many schools in the county are running on a razor’s edge. This proposal amounts to changing the rules in the middle of the game. We are in the middle of the budget year, and we cannot replace this money. You have measures at your disposal that we do not have. Do not balance your budget on the backs of the children of Anderson County.”

Recently elected District One Board member Wendy Tucker also addressed the public hearing. She expressed a viewpoint that was often repeated by others. “I am concerned with how this was handled. The first time this percentage was increased no one in the school system was informed by Mr. Preston. Now here we are again, finding out at the last minute. Telling the schools beforehand is a simple professional courtesy.” Tucker went on to say that the measure would “shift the burden of the solid waste fund from the County Council to our children.”

Fred Alexander also spoke, saying that District One is the best school district in the state. “We achieve this while using less money than ninety five per cent of the school districts in the state. As to economic development, people move here because of the quality of the schools. But if this is passed, we will have to cut services and programs. We have no choice.”

The Council’s discussion of the proposal was as evenly divided as the vote would indicate. Councilman Michael Thompson chided the school board members, saying that the County was entitled to retain all the money, should it wish. “The fee in lieu of taxes was developed as an incentive for economic development, and is really meant to be used in building infrastructure. The County is entirely within its power to keep all of that money.”

After expressing his opinion that the schools are top heavy with administration, Thompson went on to propose an amendment to the ordinance that would have withheld fifty per cent of the FILOT revenues in 2007, and one hundred per cent in 2008. The amendment was defeated 1-5.

Council chairman Larry Greer conceded that the communication between the County and the school system could have been handled better. “Still, I would say that I can recall decisions by the school system to locate in certain areas where infrastructure for a school was either inadequate or not there at all. The County was then expected to provide what was needed. So this increased communication we’re all talking about needs to be a two way street.”

Councilman Bill McAbee reinforced Greer’s claims, pointing out that the schools had approached the Council seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for infrastructure needs. “In one instance, you asked for eight hundred thousand dollars for paving at one school. I think you got four hundred fifty, but that money could have been used to pave roads that everyone uses.”

Councilwoman Wilson maintained her position that the “unconscionable grab”, as she called it, was intended as a ruse to cover up enormous debts incurred in the sewer program.

 “What we have here is a classic case of the bungling of our County finances. This is not about the solid waste fund. The solid waste fund has been running a deficit since shortly after the landfill was sold. The landfill was given away in a deal with someone who is a friend of Mr. Preston and who is sitting in this room right now. “(Editor’s note: Claude Graham III, who represented Allied Waste in the negotiations for the Big Creek landfill purchase, still attends almost every Council meeting. Wilson would later refer to him by name, stating that he frequently buys Council members food and drinks, and delivers campaign contributions to them.)

The deficit in the fund increases every year, because of the disposal contracts we have with the very same corporation that bought the landfill. The sewer fund is in trouble because we are currently using less than a third of the capacity available in the county. Once the latest lines are finished, we’ll drop to less than a quarter of the capacity. Massive projects have been built in places they aren’t needed and not built where they are needed.”

She went on to say that if the Council were serious about the solid waste deficits, “We would be going after the host fees. We get $600,000 in host fees a year, and that is not even accountable to the County. Trucks go in and out every night at the landfill. How can that be accounted for? The amount we receive is a pittance. Spartanburg County was recently offered two and half million a year in host fees for twenty years, as well as free disposal of the County’s garbage. And that was just to get their blessing on a permit application for a landfill.”

Thompson asked environmental services director Vic Carpenter if he had a rebuttal to Wilson’s charges. Carpenter called the charges offensive, and said that the deficit resulted from the fact that household garbage fees in the County have remained stagnant for ten years. “We spend more than we collect. We have been living off the balance from the landfill sale.”

He stated that without the privatization of the landfill, if the TriCounty regional landfill had opened, the fees the county pays would be double what they are now. He also said that the Spartanburg offer was apples to oranges and could not be compared to the Big Creek deal. He challenged Wilson’s claims that unaccounted dumping goes on. “We have cameras on all the time. We know what’s going in there.”

Carpenter and county financial analyst Gina Humphreys agreed that cutting services would be the probable result of the failure of the FILOT measure to pass. Preston, speaking after the vote, agreed, saying that Councilman Dees had listed several possibilities.

Dees did offer some options, making it clear he did not support them necessarily, but simply offered them as possibilities. They included privatization of the solid waste operations of the county, raising the solid waste fee, requiring private haulers to pay a tipping fee, to raise taxes, or to reduce the hours of operations at some of the convenience centers.

Said Dees, “There are seven people to blame for this situation, and I am one of those seven. We have sat here and told Mr. Preston that we won’t vote for a tax increase, and to find a way around it. This is the way he found. I do not blame him. He is simply the messenger in this case. There is doing what’s right, and doing the right thing. There is no doubt the County is entitled to keep all this money. Bu that is not the right thing to do.” Greer expressed similar thoughts, saying that it would be wrong to shift the burden from the Council to the schools. “We must do what is right here, no matter how difficult the choice. “

 In other business, second reading approval to abolish the County’s blue laws was given by a vote of 4-2 with Wilson and Greer opposed. Second reading approval was also given to an ordinance requiring those speaking before Council to disclose any persons whom they might be representing if they are doing so for compensation.

Council will meet again on December 19, in order to consider third reading approval on several issues. 

Wilson taking off gloves in bouts with Preston

By Stan Welch

It might surprise many people in Anderson County, and certainly those in District Seven, to learn that Councilwoman Cindy Wilson has been wearing gloves during her six year battle with county administrator Joey Preston. The gloves are most noticeable for their absence in her most recent comments about, and correspondence to, Preston.

“I don’t think you can call it correspondence,” said Wilson during a recent interview. “Correspondence would indicate an exchange of ideas. I haven’t had any response from Mr. Preston.”

That tone is apparent in two recent memos she sent to Preston. One, dated November 28, asked for several items of information, dealing from the amount of money spent in blasting operations conducted in conjunction with the current construction of the Beaverdam sewer line to the hiring of an intern who was active in the campaign of Ed Jean, who opposed Wilson in November’s election. Jean was handily defeated.

In asking for the information, Wilson says “Now that the election is over you will have time to return to the provision of vital material. Also, it would be helpful to members of Council if you would follow state law in issuing monthly financial statements concerning all County revenues and expenses. Thank you in advance for improving your record of accountability.”

Wilson provided copies of the letter to all Council members, including those to be seated in January, as well as to the media.

Asked whether her success, as well as the election of two new Council members, possibly changing the Council’s dynamic, had emboldened her, Wilson said, “I’ve been asking these questions for six years. Enough is enough. This administrator has continuously made out that I was ignorant and unable to understand the complexities of government finance. Now, we’re seeing his policies come home to roost. There are massive loss carry forwards, and the majority of people in the county are still unaware of them.”

Wilson said that the recent move by the administrator to double its percentage of fees in lieu of taxes (FILOTs) withheld from area school districts is not about the solid waste fund deficit, as has been claimed. “This unconscionable, ruthless grab is to cover up the enormous sewer losses After ignoring the warnings of the property owners along the route of the new lines that there was significant rock in the area, the “experts”, f I can use that word, decided to go ahead anyway. Now they are  having to do extensive blasting. There are huge cost overruns, which Mr. Preston has refused to detail.”

Wilson says the little ground she gained during a six year battle for access to County records was lost due to a ruling earlier this year that Preston could provide routine financial information to Wilson at his convenience. “Since then I am getting absolutely no information, except what is generally available to the Council. The judge ruled in contradiction of the state law. We know from his depositions that Mr. Preston routinely delayed the information in order to review it for troublesome data before providing it to me. Since the court ruled, he doesn’t even provide it at all.”

Wilson appealed that ruling, which is due to be heard by the South Carolina Supreme Court next spring.

Preston, when contacted for comment, said “Ms. Wilson has always received an answer to her questions. She may not like the answer, but she gets one. She may not accept the answer she gets, but that’s another issue. For example, the appropriate departments are working on answers to the questions in the November 28 memo right now. She receives everything she is entitled to. The courts did rule in my favor on this matter, so they must approve of what I’m doing. That matter will come before the Supreme Court next year, I understand, but currently there is a ruling in effect.”

For her part, Wilson clearly places the blame for what she sees as the County’s financial woes at Preston’s feet. “We have seen two notable cases of embezzlement under his administration. There was a case in the fleet services department in, I believe 2003, and a case last year at the animal shelter. That person was arrested somewhere else, months after the incident was discovered. There is clearly no evidence of internal budgetary controls within the county government.”

Wilson also questions Preston’s failure to provide the Council with regular reports concerning any transfer of funds in an amount greater than twenty five hundred dollars. “He routinely ignores the budget ordinance that calls for that accountability. The last time he reported those transfers, they totaled more than a million dollars over the course of a year. That is not what our ordinance calls for. I do not understand how this Council has given him such leeway.”

 In a second memo to Preston, dated November 30, which was also sent to the media, as well as current and recently elected Council members, Wilson asked Preston about the fate of some disclosure forms she had sent him. The forms were designed to serve as notarized statements that neither Preston, Bobrow Anderson, LLC, Bi-Lo nor local realtor Marshal Carrithers had any undisclosed  financial stake in the Kroger deal.

“Simply put, if there are no other deals involving the $400-$500,000 lease payments, no one will have a problem signing these forms. Can it be that your refusal to sign your disclosure, and your failure to forward the forms to the other parties indicates that there is another deal?” asks the memo.

Wilson, at the December 5 meeting of the County Council read the memo in its entirety to the Council and for the record. For his part, Preston read his response into the record, then presented Wilson with a copy. His response stated, in part, that “I’ve already stated to the Council in writing that I have no financial interest in the Kroger property. IF you want to know about other people’s interests regarding Kroger, then I suggest you ask them yourself as I have already told you that I have no authority to speak for them. IT appears that you did not like my response to you on October 24, but I stand by it and do not intend to pursue this matter further for you on your behalf.”

Wilson’s memo goes on to question Preston’s earlier response to a question she asked about the hiring of former Chief Deputy Tim Busha’s daughter to work in the airport. The memo intimates that the hiring came “shortly after he (Busha) attempted to aid you in what now appears to be a cover-up of your being found with a female county employee at Cater’s Lake . . “.

The reference is to the controversial presentation by Busha to Council approximately two weeks after Preston was found by Anderson City Police in the company of a female county employee at Cater’s Lake. Busha and Sheriff David Crenshaw appeared before Council to report that an investigation into a campaign of threatening and harassing letters, as well as stalking of Preston, had been underway for some time. Busha further stated that Preston was at Cater’s Lake that night as part of an undercover operation related to that investigation.

When contacted for a comment on Wilson’s charges, Preston declined to comment on the Cater’s Gate memo, saying only that federal laws may have been broken by Wilson in releasing that particular memo to the media. “Ms. Wilson can make any comment she wishes, but she may have put herself and the County in a libelous position. I cannot comment any further in that regard,” said Preston.

His December 4 memo, however, stated that at the time he was originally asked about the employment situation, he was unaware that the County had in fact hired the person in question. Preston’s memo ends by admonishing Councilwoman Wilson, saying, “Your continued attempts to derogate, defame and humiliate County employees is inexcusable. In the future, please leave County employees off of your political agenda, whatever it may be.”

But it is Preston’s conduct of the County’s business that Wilson returns to again and again. The Council comes in for their share of scolding, as well. “There are sufficient revenues to operate this county, and the solid waste fund. For starters, let’s withdraw the $323,000 that we used to fund the Keep America Beautiful program this year. That’s a worthy program, but it has been shanghaied for the administrator’s political purposes. Then let’s check into the operations of the department. Since 1999, this supposed enterprise fund has been losing money. Why hasn’t our administrator taken steps before this? He could start by enforcing the host fee arrangement we have with Allied.”

“When you read that Waste Management offered Spartanburg County a host fee of fifty million dollars over twenty years, and free disposal of residential garbage, just for their blessings on the company’s efforts to get additional permits, it is clear that this County was cheated.”

“This FILOT grab for solid waste is a ruse to cover the extraordinary overruns for the Beaverdam sewer. It has nothing to do with the solid waste fund. This maneuver simply proves that Mr. Preston is a ruthless operator, with no conscience. Robbing the children of Anderson County like this is incredible,” said the Councilwoman.

 Wilson has long been an opponent of the Beaverdam sewer project, claiming that the lines should have been run along the Highway 81 route to open it for development and provide sufficient customers for the line. “Now they are putting developments on the fast track to get more customers on the line. But they won’t get enough before the debts come due. The people of this County are facing huge tax increases and it won’t be long,” said Wilson.

Deputies investigate thefts, other incidents

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated thefts from area homes and businesses. Among incidents investigated were:

BELTON 

Nov. 29 – N.M. Mitchell responded to 1422 Cox Lake Rd., where he was told by Allen Hall, Jr. that someone had broken into his storage building and shop and stolen an assortment of tools and automotive diagnostic equipment, valued at more than $11,000.

PELZER

Nov. 27 – R.S. Turner was dispatched to Old River Road where Dean Townsley reported the theft of an equipment trailer from the job site. The trailer was white with the name McElrath in red on the side. It was valued at $4500.

Nov. 29 – J.L. Bergholm responded to 10 River St., where Billy Eller reported that someone had broken into his small store beside his home. They stole fifty cartons of cigarettes and forty cans of smokeless tobacco. Total value was estimated at $1365.

PIEDMONT

Nov. 27 – R.M.Cooper responded to 546 McNeely Rd. at the Executive Inn, where Narendra Patel reported that a guest had damaged the room and refused to pay for the damages.

Nov. 28 – R.M. Cooper was dispatched to 2531 River Road to investigate a burglary. Cory Powers reported that someone had broken into his father’s unit at River Road Mini-Storage and stolen a gun safe, three shotguns and two rifles, with a total vlaue of $2400.

Nov. 28 – W.T. Cunningham responded to 126 –B Childers Circle, where Leslie Wormwood, an Asian Female,28, 5’3", 135 pounds reported that her ex husband , Phillip Flowers , WM, 31, had assaulted her, spitting on her, punching her and burning her hair with a lighter. Flowers also called the police to file a complaint, but while the deputy was placing Flowers under arrest, he and Deputy Bergholm noticed a fire in a field across the road. They discovered children’s clothing and other belongings burning in the field. Flowers was also arrested on charges of arson and taken to ACDC.

Nov. 28 – R.S. Turner responded to 441 Hwy. 183, where Gary Cooper reported the burglary of his storage shed, where someone stole tools and fishing equipment valued at $2600.

Nov. 28 – R.M. Cooper arrived at the Ingles supermarket at 10903 Anderson Rd. The manager reported that Gary Garrett, WM, 41, 6’,160 pounds had shoplifted a Schick razor. Garrett was arrested and taken to ACDC.

Nov.29 – J.J. Jacobs observed a suspicious red Mazda at the Century Farm BP station. He checked the tag and found it should have been registered to a Toyota, but had expired in 2002. He attempted to stop the vehicle, which fled down Hwy. 86. Speeds reached 95 miles an hour before the pursuit was terminated by the watch officer at ACSO.

Nov. 29 – G.J. Turner and J.J. Jacobs were executing nine warrants on Kenneth Sellers, WM, 44, 6’1", 225 pounds, grey/brn, of 243 South Circle when they noticed the license tag on the truck in his yard. The tag proved to be stolen as well. Sellers was arrested and transported to ACDC.

WILLIAMSTON

Nov. 27 – R.S. Turner was sent to 251 Alliance Park Way where Michael Goodnight reported that someone had stolen a utility trailer from behind the Superior Bands business there.

Nov. 27 – R.S. Turner responded to 210 Evergreen st., where Mark Rhodes stated that someone had stolen a leaf blower from his home.

Nov. 28 & 29 -  R.M Cooper responded to 307 Willingham Rd., where Lora Porter stated that she had been to the home, which she was renting to her son, who was incarcerated. She found three people staying there. They said they had moved in three weeks earlier. She also reported that she found the power had been turned off, but two wires had been used to bridge the gap and restore power. She reported it to Duke Power Co. The next day, W.T. Cunningham responded to the same address where Porter reported that someone had tried to enter a double wide trailer she owns at that address and had damaged the door.

GWBA ornaments make great present

The Greater Williamston Business Association now has 2006 Collectors Christmas Ornaments available.  This year there are three to choose from.

The new 2006 ornament features Ms. Leona Parker, a local educator. Also available is a reissue of the popular Dr. Dwight H. Smith ornament that was made available in 2005 and a memorial issue in purple and white.

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

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 is the first to recognize an individual associated with  the community. 

A special purple and white memorial ornament honoring Dr. Smith is also available.

Previous ornaments have focused on landmarks and park scenes. 

Other 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 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 $7 each for persons hoping to complete their collection. Retired ornaments are available at MV Pizza and The Journal.

Seems to Me . . . A southern tradition (Hunt Clubs)

By Stan Welch

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has, for the last decade or so, been a special time to me. It has as much to do with a coastal tradition as it does with the actual holiday season.

Some people call the coastal area the Lowcountry, but to a Charleston boy, you gotta be at least south of Georgetown to be in or from the Lowcountry. Once you see those huge expanses of marsh grass, stretching towards the sea, like some boggy meadow , laced with creeks and currents, then you know you’re in the Lowcountry. From there to the Savannah River mouth, you is in da Lowcountry. Ain’t no doubt bout dat.

Horry and Marion counties, however, are not. Horry  County wants to be, but it can’t. Murrell’s Inlet and Pawley’s Island come close, being in Georgetown county and all; but I’m sorry, they just don’t make it. If Georgetown ever was in the Lowcountry, they were kicked out when they built that godawful smelling paper mill. That thing stinks so bad (the smell of money, the locals call it) that you can’t even enjoy a mint julep without it tasting like pulp wood.

But back to the tradition I was talking about, before I got distracted by the smell of pluff mud. Down on and near the coast of northern South Carolina, most deer hunting is done on leased  land, which is owned by the paper companies, and used to grow trees. That paper mill got to run on something, don’t ya know?

A hunt club can be comprised of from ten to two hundred members, though really big clubs are scarce. Most clubs are pretty small, running form a dozen to two dozen members. These clubs are very casual and made up of a few old time friends, with enough young bucks, often sons, to add some fresh blood and do any heavy lifting that might come along.. The members, which in some clubs do include women, (mostly wives keeping an eye on their fellas) put together camps ranging from a bunch of pop up campers scattered through the brush to nice bunkhouses, despite the lack of lights and indoor plumbing.

The center of every club, however, is the cook shack, which can also run from pretty plain to right fancy. It’s always within a few steps of the fire pit, which is the other center of the club. Every club has a big, portable pig cooker that will hold a 110 pound whole hog for barbecue, with room for some venison hams or Boston butt roasts on the side.

Be patient, we’re closing in on that tradition I love so much. 

Deer season ends down there on January 1 or so, and the guys use the clubs much less often after that, depending on the circumstances at home. So during the holidays, and especially as Christmas gets closer, the clubs are pretty full on weekends. Many of the clubs are within a few miles of each other, often sharing boundaries. So the members all ride around in their pickups or their four wheelers, stopping in to see friends and have a drink. Or two. Pigs are cooking and Brunswick and venison stews are bubbling on every camp stove. Enough fire wood gets burned, regardless of weather, to heat Milwaukee.

Hunting stories and various other lies are flying around, and the good times are so easy to find it’s almost a shame. Almost. There are folks who don’t hunt twice a year who visit the clubs, and they’re all welcome. Young men and boys are welcome too, and even the most dedicated hunter will give up a prime stand to give a youngster a chance at a good deer. There’s always a four wheeler for some young kid to borrow and go tearing around on the logging roads that connect and cut up the clubs. Young girls and their Moms are also welcome, and are treated as ladies, with all those rough old boys watching their language like the preacher was there.

Sometimes, he is, along with doctors and lawyers and judges, and even the occasional game warden. But most of them are courteous and wise enough to stop by and eat, then leave. The smart ones understand that being on  their best behavior in the woods is a real strain on some of those boys. Besides, the preachers figure with hunting season winding down, they’ll be seeing most of  those boys more often.

I have made the rounds of the clubs each year for eight or ten years now. I see people I scarcely see at all during the rest of the year. Sometimes I’ll run into a friend I haven’t seen in two or three years.

Now, I’m not a big hunter, though I do find it peaceful in the stand, and I will shoot Bambi’s daddy if he gets careless. But the friendship and the comfortable Southern country style of the whole thing is what appeals to me. Seems to me it is a vanishing lifestyle. I hope I’m wrong, but just in case, I believe I’ll make the rounds again this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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