News Archive

(4907) Week of Dec. 5, 2007

Santa Express coming to town
Area parades scheduled Saturday
Yard sale permits, building removal top discussions
Congressman Barrett meets with textile employees
Shopping Center under renovation
Leaves should be bagged
West Pelzer receives competitive grant
WP Fire gets new turnout gear
County Delegation announces funding for local projects
Zoning killed, spending in question
Deputies investigate thefts
Counterfeit goods seized at Jockey Lot
Former POW recounts WWII
Release time program may be offered in high schools
District One needs more classrooms, upgrades
Early deadlines for holidays
Seems to Me . . .Who shall steer the ship?

Santa Express coming to town

Santa Claus will be riding the rails through the area this Saturday and stopping to visit local children along the way.

The Greenville and Western Railway Company LLC (GRLW) wholly owned subsidiary of Western Carolina Railway Service Corporation (WDRS) , will hold its first annual Santa Express this Saturday, Dec. 8.

Santa’s special caboose will be pulled by an GRLW Engine through the area and is scheduled for five stops along their railway.

Following Santa’s arrival at each stop, boys and girls in attendance will have the opportunity to step on board Santa’s caboose and tell Old Saint Nick exactly what they want for Christmas. They will also receive a treat. Santa will draw three lucky names to receive special gifts from his bag before the train departs each stop.

The Santa Express will be in Honea Path at Hamby Road, arriving at 12:15 p.m. and departing at 1 p.m.

It will arrive in Belton at O’Neal St. at 1:30 p.m. and depart at 2:15 p.m.

The train will stop in Cheddar at Cheddar Road at 2:45 p.m. and depart at 3:30 p.m.

Santa is scheduled to arrive in Williamston at Williams St. at 4 p.m. and will depart at 4:45.

Last stop for the Santa Express will be at Lyman St. in Pelzer (at the old depot) at 5 p.m., departing at 5:45 p.m.

Everyone is invited to meet Santa on the Santa Express.

The Western Carolina Railway Service Corporation is a privately held SC corporation organized in 2003 for the purpose of preserving, restoring and revitalizing rail service in both South and North Carolina.

The company provides freight and transit rail service in the Carolinas.

Area parades scheduled Saturday

Area Christmas parades are gearing up. The 2007 Piedmont Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday, Dec. 8, beginning at 11 a.m. Parade Headquarters will be under the drive-thru awning of SunTrust Bank, located at Hwy. 86 and Blossom Branch Road.

The parade is being organized by the Piedmont Bonnes Amies Club. The theme for this year is “SEASON OF LIGHT”. Space is still available for anyone wishing to enter the parade organizers said. Entry forms are available at Piedmont Fire Department, Highway 86. For information, contact  Paige Crawford or Maxie Freeman at 864-244-3435.

The Bonnes Amies Club will also sponsor a food drive in conjunction with the Piedmont Christmas Parade.  Items may be brought to the Parade Headquarters located at SunTrust Bank or given to a Cub Scout Troop walking the parade route. Suggested items to bring are: Canned goods, flour, corn meal, sugar, cooking oil, grits, oatmeal, powdered milk, etc. (anything non-perishable).

The Williamston Christmas Parade is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m.  The Theme for the 2007 parade will be Keep Christ in Christmas. There is no entry fee however organizers urge participants to bring plenty of candy, said Parade Chairman Walter Smith.

Registration forms for the parade are available at the Williamston Municipal Center or register by phone by calling 864-847-7473. Registration deadline to be judged is Thursday, Dec. 6.

Entries may be registered the day of the parade and entry numbers can be picked up at Fort Hill Gas offices on Hamilton St. beginning at 1 p.m. until 2:50 p.m. A double line will be formed for parade line up on Hamilton St. Horses are to be in the rear.

Smith said the committee is accepting applications from businesses, churches, organizations, individuals and others interested in participating in the event. Trophies will be given out at City Hall immediately following the parade, Smith said.

The parade will begin at Hamilton St. and proceed along Main St. to Calvary Baptist Church. For more information, call Smith at 864-847-7929.

The 2nd annual Country Christmas Parade sponsored by the South Greenville Fire Department will be held Saturday, December 15 at 11 a.m. in the Ware Place area. The parade will begin at Hwy. 418 and Old Hundred Road and continue to  Old Hundred Grocery. Everyone is weelcome to participate. Contact SGFD Chief Ken Taylor for more information at 864-243-5650.

Yard sale permits, building removal top discussions

During their meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council worked on wording for advertising the administrator’s position, set yard sale fees, and looked at purchasing gas in bulk.

After discussion on the administrator, Town Attorney Richard Thompson was instructed to reword a sample ad and add a paragraph about Williamston.

Advertisement for the position will have wording requiring a Bachelors degree in government, political science or public administration or comparable background in business administration or personnel. The wording will be presented to council for final approval.

Council unanimously approved second reading on policies and procedures for the police department.

Council unanimously approved a $5 permit fee for yard sales in an ordinance that set fine amounts and penalties for violations. The ordinance allows a warning at the discretion of officers before monetary penalties begin on the second offense. The ordinance also requires permits to be obtained in advance and states they will not be available on Saturday.

There was considerable discussion on removal of a block house located on Roberts Blvd. Mayor Phillip Clardy is to meet with the Anderson County Building Inspector this Friday to discuss condemnation of structures and Williamston Police Chief David Baker plans to ride with him to look at several buildings.

The discussion led into whether the town was going to treat private and non-profit properties the same. There was also some discussion on voluntary and involuntary removal procedures.

During the discussion, Councilman Otis Scott made a motion to investigate the cost of a building inspection course for training for a member of the Williamston Police Department. Council unanimously agreed to instruct the police chief to look into the cost.

The town attorney said it is legal to tear down a building at no cost to the owner, however, how to handle private and non-profit owners was a question. He also said the town may need to budget double or triple the $40,000 currently in the budget for similar projects.

Attorney Thompson is to provide more information at the next meeting.

Council approved first reading on an ordinance setting the fees charged for the municipal facilities similar to fees already in place since 1988.

Changes include adding an optional set up fee  of $50 for use of the gym.

Park Committee Chairman Dale Martin read a resolution recommending a burgundy roof for the scout hut to “keep peace within the town” even though the committee earlier recommended green roofs to match other buildings in the park.

Council approved the recommendation 4-1 with Councilman David Harvell sticking to the original decision of green.

Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr.  asked about water restrictions due to the drought.

Mayor Clardy said that Governor Mark Sanford has requested a reduction on a voluntary basis across the state, but there is not a  mandatory restriction.

Middleton suggested the town make a list of water infrastructure that may need to be replaced as it ends the useful lifespan.

On a related note, Mayor Clardy said that a screw pump at the town’s sewer treatment plant is out of commission and will need approximately $20,000 in repairs.

Clardy also said that the town needs to do a water rate study and look into the legalities associated with upgrades made in the Anderson Region Water Authority System of which the town is a member.

Councilman Scott said that the town could have tremendous savings by purchasing bulk from O’Dell oil as it had in the past. Savings could be as much as 48.9 cents per gallon on gas and .30 cents on diesel.

Council discussed looking into adding fuel tanks and the use of swipe cards in providing bulk diesel and gas to town vehicles.

Councilman Middleton said that accountability was the priority and that the swipe cards would keep up with who was using the fuel. No action was taken.

A bid was opened on a garbage truck the town is selling. Hammond and Sons offered to remove the block house structure (discussed earlier) including tipping fees and permits, in exchange for the truck. No motion was made and the offer died for lack of a second.

Council then went into executive session to discuss a contractural matter with First Baptist Church, Goldie and Associates and a personnel matter.

Upon returning to open session, Council unanimously authorized Goldie and Associates to perform an engineering study on providing a stormwater drain from Oak St. to Mineral Sping Lane.

Congressman Barrett meets with textile employees

By Stan Welch

Congressman Gresham Barrett was in town last week, meeting with various elected officials, as well as representatives from Williamston’s two textile plants, seeking ways to alleviate the pressures on the textile industry in Williamston.

Senator Billy O’Dell joined County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, Mayor Phillip Clardy and Councilman Otis Scott at Town Hall for a round robin discussion of the problems facing the Cushman and Mount Vernon mills. Personnel Manager Hugh Carroll represented the Cushman Mill while Kelly Ford and Linda Ellis represented Mount Vernon.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy opened the discussion by welcoming everyone and reminding them that he is from the mill hill, and still lives there.

“I doubt if I could sleep at night if the mill closed, it would be so quiet,” he said. He also expressed concerns about the impact that any mill closings would have on the Town’s revenues. The mills currently pay a fee in lieu of taxes that provides a great deal of the town’s funds.

Senator O’Dell reminisced about working in the mills of Abbeville as a boy, but added that recent trade agreements entered into by the United States have badly hurt the textile industry. “Congressman Barrett has done a great job trying to protect South Carolina’s textiles, but some bad agreements have been made. Those need to be reviewed and if possible, revised,” said the Senator.

Congressman Barrett, who is widely rumored to be preparing to run for Governor next year, a rumor he declined to address, agreed.

“We’ve actually been fortunate in the last couple of years because the trade agreements on the table required the textile industry to be on board. In other words, for a change, they at least had to listen to us, instead of just steamrolling us like they had done in the past.”

Hugh Carroll conceded that, while Cushman has managed to avoid actual layoffs, the mill has not replaced workers lost to attrition and retirement.

“We are about half the size we were ten years ago, in terms of work force,” said Carroll. “We have lost such a volume of business that only our patents and the revenue they generate really keeps us going in Williamston.”

Cushman currently employs approximately 300 workers while Mount Vernon employs about 190.

The problem of intellectual piracy, as well as the Chinese currency issue, both loom large for the companies, said Carroll.

“The loss of protection for technologies and techniques that we develop and end up competing against when China basically steals the knowledge is hard to overestimate. Then you throw in some agreements like CAFTA and American companies are taking a real beating. We don’t even have a playing field anymore, much less a level one.”

Kelly Ford agreed, saying that loss of volume is the biggest challenge Mount Vernon Mill faces.

“Luckily, we have customers who have to have American made product. We recently began producing American flags, many of which are unfortunately given to the families of fallen servicemen. Certainly, such an hallowed item must be produced in this country.”

Short turnaround times have also helped them retain market share, said Ford. “We actually ship a lot of product to Mexico. We can deliver very quickly in cases where other competitors can’t”.

Still, says Ford, seven years have passed since pay increases have been offered to the mill’s workforce. “That is a real problem, obviously. At some point, that just can’t be absorbed by the workers. Retaining workers becomes a problem as well.”

One worker who Mount Vernon has retained is Linda Ellis who has worked at the mill for fifty years.

“We have seen a lot of changes in recent years, and not all of them were good. It would be a terrible thing to see Williamston without mills, without jobs for the people who live here,” she said.

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, who started college as a Milliken Scholar, also spoke about the importance of the mills and also addressed the issue of national security as it is related to Chinese influence in the world markets and on international currency.

“We reach a point where we become vulnerable as a country because of outside influences on our economy. The manipulation of currency is really worrisome.”

Senator O’Dell also raised the question of the military being able to obtain materiel and equipment it needs. “If we continue on our current path, that day is coming. What happens if we need uniforms for fifty thousand new troops, and China says they can’t produce them right now?”

Congressman Barrett acknowledged the challenges and offered no easy solutions. 

“I would never promise you that the textile industry is going to grow again to any significant extent. But if we work hard and fight hard, perhaps we can at least hold our ground.”

Shopping Center under renovation

By Stan Welch

Local builder and businessman Gary McAlister recently purchased the old Winn Dixie property behind the Hardee’s on Beaverdam Road and is preparing it to attract tenants.

“The roof was in bad shape and has to be replaced, and there’s a good bit of work to do elsewhere. We’re putting a new front on it so it will look different than before,” said McAlister in an interview with The Journal. A carpentry crew has been working for several weeks, building a new framework on the front of the store.

The building, comprising approximately 27,000 square feet, is currently configured into three units, but McAlister says he will accommodate tenants. “We will split it up into more and smaller units if that’s what it takes to fill the building. I’ve done this sort of thing elsewhere in the county and it worked. I’m a little worried about Williamston, with its lack of industry, as far as attracting larger tenants, but you never know until you try.”

McAlister, who was born in Anderson County and has been a businessman here for forty nine years, says he hasn’t been approaching potential tenants yet. “We want to get it looking good before we really start looking for clients. We’re sort of speculating with it right now, but we hope we can bring some good businesses to town.”

He estimates the renovations will take another six weeks or so to complete.

Leaves should be bagged

Williamston residents are reminded that garbage, limbs and other items to be picked up by the town should be separated and meet certain guidelines.

Williamston Street Department Head John Owen reminds residents that leaves should be in enclosed disposable containers such as plastic bags, securely tied and placed in a location near the street and in a separate pile from other trash or debris.

No other foreign materials, such as paper, cans, flower pots, metal, string or glass, should be mixed with leaves or grass clippings.

Normal seasonal yard trimmings and pruning such as tree limbs, shrubs, small stumps, vegetative materials, silts, rootmats, gravel, rock, topsoil and clay in reasonable quantities will be picked up by the town, he said.

Yard trimmings should be placed at the edge of the property on the weekend before the week of normal pickup and should be separate from all other trash and debris.that trash should be out for pickup by 7 a.m. on the day of pickup.

Weekly trash pickup is normally  scheduled for Ward 1, on Monday; Ward 2, Tuesday; Ward 3, Wednesday; Ward 4 on Thursday and limb and other items on Friday.

 To be eligible for pickup by the town, the town’s ordinance states that garbage should be placed in plastic bags, should be in garbage containers not larger than 32 gallons and that containers should have a drain hole in the bottom.

Garbage and trash containers should be placed on the side of the street at the edge of the property on the morning of the day of pickup which begins at 7 a.m.

Items such as paint cans, cardboard boxes, flower pots and large plastic toys that will not fit into plastic bags can be placed beside other bagged garbage.

A new garbage packer truck the town recently purchased has equipment to handle larger 96 gallon carts which many town residents are now using.

Funds from the town’s garbage monthly collection fee was used to purchase the truck.

The Town’s Holiday trash pickup schedule for the rest of 2007 and 2008 is as follows:

Normal pickup - Ward 1,  Monday; Ward 2, Tuesday; Ward 3, Wednesday; Ward 4, Thursday and limb and other items on Friday.

December 24-25 - Ward 1, Wednesday, Ward 2, Wednesday; Ward 3, Thursday; Ward 4, Friday.

New Years, January 1, 2008 - Ward 1, Monday; Ward 2, Wednesday; Ward 3, Thursday; Ward 4, Friday.

MLK birthday, Jan. 21 - Ward 1, Tuesday; Ward 2, Wednesday; Ward 3, Thursday, Ward 4, Friday.

Good Friday, Mar. 21 - Ward 1,  Monday; Ward 2, Tuesday; Ward 3, Wednesday; Ward 4, Thursday.

Memorial Day, May 26 - Ward 1,  Tuesday; Ward 2, Wednesday; Ward 3, Thursday; Ward 4, Friday.

Independence Day, July 4 - Ward 1,  Monday; Ward 2, Tuesday; Ward 3, Wednesday; Ward 4, Thursday.

 

West Pelzer receives competitive grant

By Stan Welch

Senator Billy O’Dell was in West Pelzer recently to present Mayor Peggy Paxton with a check for $10,000. The funds, obtained through the state’s competitive grants program, will be used to purchase software that will allow residents’ water meters to be read from a moving vehicle.

In addition to the software needed to make the system work, the grant will be used to purchase twenty radio readable water meters, at a cost of $160 each. The total cost of eventually replacing all of the four hundred fifty three meters on the Town’s water system is estimated at $80,000.

Obviously, it will take us a few years to make the changeover completely, but the increased accuracy and the ability to simply drive past and read meters will result in tremendous savings for the town in the coming years,” said Mayor Paxton. “Once again, Senator O’Dell has come to our aid. It is very comforting to know that our Senator understands that small towns need access to the latest technology as much as larger cities do. We appreciate his help, as well as the assistance of Mr. Rusty Burns in preparing and delivering our application for these funds.”

Senator O’Dell said he was impressed that the Mayor and the Town had been farsighted enough to pursue the grant opportunity. “This change won’t come overnight, but it clearly shows that West Pelzer has an eye to the future, and an understanding of what a crucial issue infrastructure and its management are for small towns.”

WP Fire gets new turnout gear

The West Pelzer Fire Department recently purchased twenty three sets of turnout gear, as well as other gear, compliments of a $42,755 FEMA grant.

In addition to the turnout gear, consisting of coats and trousers, the department purchased thirty each of helmets, boots, gloves, and flash hoods. An additional four thousand dollars went to purchase a generator for the department.

“Rusty Burns helped us prepare our application for this grant,” said Michael Mahaffey. “We appreciate his help and FEMA for awarding this grant to us. Our guys really needed the new gear.”

County Delegation announces funding for local projects

By Stan Welch

The Anderson County Delegation met Tuesday afternoon to make appointments to various committees and panels and to distribute PARD grants to various entities around the County.

First, though, they presented a resolution to the family of Sgt. Joseph Chase Stewart, a 2001 Palmetto High School graduate currently serving with the Fourth Infantry Division of the United States Army. Sgt. Stewart received the Army Commendations Medal of Valor for courage under fire in Iraq.

Sgt. Stewart fired upon and neutralized an insurgent during a grenade attack on his patrol, ending a threat to his fellow soldiers and allowing a wounded soldier to be quickly given the needed medical treatment. Sgt. Stewart, son of Karen and Robby Cochran and Joey Stewart, was unable to attend in person. He has recently returned to his post at Fort Hood ,TX.

Rep. Michael D. Thompson, who was conducting the meeting in the absence of Rep. Dan Cooper and Rep. Brian White, thanked the family for their son’s service. “We are proud to call him one of our own, and we will all continue to pray for his safety,” said Thompson.

Reps. Cooper and White arrived later. They had been attending meetings in Columbia and were delayed.

In other business, Henry Busby and Keith Scarborough were appointed to the Anderson County Disabilities and Special Needs Board. Mr. Scarborough is a key management figure with Walgreen’s, which has made a major commitment to the employment of those with special needs and disabilities.

The Anderson County Transportation Committee was reappointed intact, with all seven incumbents returning.

The incumbents on the Big Creek Water and Sewerage District Board were also returned to office, as were the Board members of the Powdersville Water District.

The delegation also awarded a number of Parks and Recreation development (PARD) grants. The County of Anderson received four grants: Hurricane Springs Park, $34,000; Double Springs Park, $15,000; Friendship Community $10,000; and Mt. Bethel Community,$10,000.

The city of Belton received two grants: Jaycee ballpark, $10,000; Leda Poore Park, $20,000. Williamston received $20,000 for Brookdale Park, while Honea Path received the same amount for the girls’ softball fields.

The Town of Iva received $10,000 each for projects at the Iva Civic Center and the Iva ball park.

Two large requests from the City of Anderson, one for $33,114 for a handicap accessible restroom at Linley Park, and one for $30,049 for a handicap accessible playground and picnic area at the recreation center, were not voted on Tuesday, but remain under consideration.

Zoning killed, spending in question

By Stan Welch

 The final meeting of Anderson County Council followed familiar patterns Tuesday night. Chairman Bob Waldrep, conducting his last meeting, wielded a heavier gavel than he had previously, refusing several times to recognize other members until he had finished what he or other members had to say.

Still, by the end of the meeting, the Council majority had cast several votes that essentially removed control of the meeting from the Chairman’s hands.

The Council heard a presentation from Anderson Chamber of Commerce Director Lee Luff concerning the controversial Chamber Check program. The program is the County’s way of giving Christmas bonuses to its employees.

A company called Certifichecks, out of Ohio, runs the program. The local Chamber sells the checks to whoever purchases them, then forwards the money to Certifichecks, which issues the equivalent amount in the gift certificates.

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson has been critical of the program, questioning what happens to the difference between the amount spent by the county and the amount of the certificate redeemed. Luff said that in 2004, the County purchased $15,860 worth of the checks, and 88% were redeemed. Last year, the County spent a little over $25,000 and 905 were redeemed, leaving a balance of $2500. This year, the County purchased $35,280 worth of the checks.

Ms. Wilson asked Luff what happened to the money that wasn’t spent by the recipients of the checks. Luff said that the checks/certificates have no expiration date. “That money is in a holding account held by the Certifichecks Company until they are redeemed.”

The discussion ended when the time allotted for Luff’s presentation ran out and Wilson and Chairman Waldrep were unable to get a majority vote to extend the discussion.

Councilman Ron Wilson then took action to fulfill his recent promise to kill the initiative to zone District Six, which he represents. He ruefully acknowledged that he had made a big mistake in his early drive to implement zoning, and to do so through a radically different process than the one currently in place.

 “I have made mistakes in my life, but I have seldom made one of this magnitude. I misread this issue from the start. We held two meetings recently and eighty to ninety per cent of those attending were clearly opposed to any form of zoning. We had a huge crowd at the Wren meeting, and they were pretty clear themselves on what they wanted. I am asking this Council to kill this ordinance which I introduced a month ago.”

Ms. Wilson asked to make some comments, at which point Mr. McAbee attempted to interrupt and call for the question. Waldrep refused to recognize him and allowed Ms. Wilson to continue. “We started out this process to focus on our land use standards. That is the appropriate way to manage our growth.”

Again McAbee tried to interrupt, and Waldrep again denied him, instead making some comments himself. The eventual vote to kill the zoning ordinance was unanimous.

Dr. Ellen Saltzman, a specialist in government finance from Clemson University, gave a presentation on the potential impacts of revenue and expenditure trends on the state’s general fund. The presentation was seriously handicapped by technical difficulties, but she persevered. Following her presentation, Chairman Waldrep was speaking with her when Councilwoman Gracie Floyd attempted to break in. again, Waldrep declined to recognize her until he had finished.

A discussion prior to third reading of an ordinance authorizing the issuance of $2.8 million in Special Source Revenue Bonds led to some additional fireworks, with Chairman Waldrep asking for clarification of the county policy on notifying Council of pending real estate transactions.

County Administrator Joey Preston assured him that  no real estate would be purchased for projects that hadn’t been funded by Council.

Ms. Wilson challenged that claim, saying that the property purchased in 2006 in Powdersville had not been funded by Council in advance. Preston stated that the circumstances surrounding that purchase had been explained again and again.

Councilwoman Wilson continued to question  the credit card expenses incurred by the County. She announced that the County has apparently established yet a third credit card account, this one with Carolina First.

“We have six or eight people with credit cards out there, with all different spending limits, and we simply aren’t requiring adequate backup and receipts for these things. I have asked for the opportunity to sit down and review these records and I have yet to receive an answer.”

She went on to cite thousands of dollars worth of travel meals and lodging expenses.

“Why do we have people going to Ogden Utah, and Chicago and New York? Why are we paying for the District Four Council representative’s travel expenses? These are just some of the questions that arise.”

In answer to a question from Chairman Waldrep concerning the County’s policy on credit card use, Preston said that there was a policy and it involved the use of a limited number of cards and adequate backup for their use. “We do have a policy about this sir.”

Councilman McAbee again jumped in, asking for a point of order, which Waldrep denied. McAbee then attempted to appeal the ruling of the chair. Floyd seconded that challenge. The squabble resulted in a vote to extend the time for discussion of the matter, and Waldrep and Ms. Wilson were denied, with Councilman Greer abstaining.

The December 18 meeting of the Council has been cancelled due to the holidays. The regularly scheduled first meeting January was postponed till January 8, since it fell on New Year’s Day.

Deputies investigate thefts

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated a number of incidents during the Thanksgiving weekend. Among incidents investigated were:

PIEDMONT

Nov. 22 – Deputy S. Proner was dispatched to 9 Donald St. where William Caldwell reported the theft of a white 1970 van from the location. The van was valued at $1100.

Nov. 22 – T.B. Dugan responded to 130 Round Table Court where Faith Siler reported being threatened by a neighbor who said that she had let his dogs out of their pen. No arrest was made but Dugan planned to contact a magistrate.

Nov. 23 – C. Holbrooks was dispatched to 226 Smith Dr. where Timothy Ramsey, WM, 19, 5’6", 180 pounds, said that his brother, Ricky Ramsey, WM, 18,  4’11", 120 pounds had come home and started trouble, eventually knocking over the Christmas tree in the house. Amanda Hatley, also a resident at the address, said that she saw the two struggling. She verified the report by Timothy that Ricky struck him while Amanda was between them trying to break up the altercation. Ricky Ramsey was arrested for assault and battery and transported to ACDC.

Nov. 24 – J.T. Bowers responded to 3518 Hwy. 153 where Stephanie Watts reported that a white male, age 30-35 driving a brown Ford Ranger pickup drove up to her in the Bi-Lo parking lot and exposed himself to her. The vehicle had no license tag displayed.

Nov. 24 – R.D. Smith responded to 167 Lowe Rd. where Herbert Buchanon reported the theft of his EZ-Go golf cart. The value was estimated at $2000.

Nov. 24 – J.J. Jacobs was dispatched to 128 Ellie Dr. where Steven Seeger, WM, 39, reported that his brother had punched him in the chest during a family argument.

WILLIAMSTON

Nov. 22 - T.B. Dugan responded to 103 Chippewa Lane where Willie Acker, BM, 30, reported that a man had assaulted his daughter. No arrests were made.

Nov. 22 –K.D. Pigman was dispatched to 101Lighthouse Rd. where Kristal Coffie reported that someone had stolen her husband’s trailer. The trailer was a blue custom made flatbed, valued at $2000.

Nov. 23 – J.J. Jacobs responded to 401 Martin Rd. where Chad Gouine reported that someone had kicked in his neighbor’s front door. The neighbor was on vacation, but Jacobs found a footprint on the door and a broken door casing. Nothing appeared to be missing, but the damage was estimated at $300.

Nov. 23 – R.D. Smith responded to 8 Allen St. where Renee Tumblin reported the theft of her wedding and engagement ring from her jewelry box. Scott Quigley, her husband, also reported the theft of six fishing rods from the front porch of the residence. Total loss was valued at $945.

Nov. 25 – D.L. Barton was on patrol on Cherokee Rd. at approximately 1800 hours when he received a BOLO (be on lookout) for a possible drunk driver near Midway Rd. He located a vehicle matching the description given and after observing him weaving and crossing the center line several times, he made a traffic stop on Ulysses Fowler, BM, 69, of Ware Shoals. Subsequent field tests led to Fowler’s arrest on a charge of driving left of center and DUI.

BELTON

Nov. 22 – S. Proner was dispatched to 1306 Stringer Rd. where Ronald Shortridge told him that someone had stolen his EZ-Go golf cart. The cart was dark purple without a top and off road tires on the rear axle. The value was estimated at $1050.

Nov. 23 – J.T. Foster responded to 636 Floyd Wright Dr. where Thomas Bell reported the burglary of  a residence at that location. Thomas is allowed to hunt on the land and noticed the barn open on his way to his stand. He also noticed a screen cut on a window in the house. He called the ACSO. Deputy Foster responded and found two TVs and a VCR missing as well. Damage to the barn and house was estimated at $300.

Nov. 23 – J.T. Foster was dispatched to 104 C & K Dr. where Alan Rampey told him that someone had stolen a white enclosed trailer containing hunting and fishing equipment as well as a variety of power tools. The loss was estimated at $2500.

Incident reports for the last week of November and first of December were unavailable from the Sheriff’s office as of Tuesday.

Counterfeit goods seized at Jockey Lot

Anderson County Sheriff’s officers, along with private investigators and representatives of several industries, swept into the Jockey Lot on December 1, making several arrests and confiscating counterfeit merchandise valued at more than $101,000.

The industries represented were the motion picture industry, the recording industry, and the clothing and luggage industries.

According to police reports filed by C.C. McBride, Daniel DeWitt, BM, 38, from Columbia, was charged with selling counterfeit Nike and Timberland shoes. Nearly 350 pairs of the counterfeit Nikes were seized. Total value of the merchandise in that booth was $38,450.

Sheriff’s investigator C.C. McBride spearheaded the raids, and was accompanied by representatives of Blazer Investigations, a private investigating firm based in Harrisburg, NC, that represents several industries that are commonly subjected to counterfeiting of their products, including the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Investigators from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) were also on hand.

Mario Martinez Maya, Hispanic male, 37, 5’3", 170 pounds, from Williamston, was charged with selling counterfeit CDs and DVDs, valued at almost $20,000. He had more than a thousand CDs on hand.

Upon arriving at booth number 713, investigators found that booth abandoned with the counterfeit merchandise still displayed. No suspect was detained, but 478 DVDs, valued at $9560 were seized.

Marcus Brownlee, BM, 22, from Belton, was charged with selling counterfeit movie DVDs valued at $1740.

Allen Lemont, BM, 30, 5’8", 175 pounds, of Anderson, was charged with selling counterfeit movie DVDs and CDs. The value of the merchandise was $9340.

Charles Lacount, WM, 23, 6’, 200 pounds, of Anderson, was charged with selling counterfeit DVD movies valued at $1200.

Xian Liu, Asian male, 29, of Simpsonville, was charged with selling counterfeit handbags, purses and wallets, valued at $21,500. The “brand name” merchandise in the booth included such names as Gucci, Chanel, Coach, Louis Vitton, Dooney and Bourke, and others.

Former POW recounts WWII

At 7:55 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, bringing a previously reluctant U. S. into World War II

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said it was “A date which will live in infamy.” 

While the terriorist attacks on 9-11, 2001, are more prominent in the minds of many Americans today, the attack on Pearl Harbor is still strongly remembered by many.

But for one local man, the day was a predecessor for events that forever changed his life.

Ralph M. Knox, of Williamston, was stationed at Clark Field in the Philipines, which was bombed the same day as Pearl Harbor.

He witnessed many events leading up to the fall of Bataan, a small Philipino island that he was on and he was one of the youngest American soldiers captured by the Japanese in the Philippines. He was also among the captured prisoners who sufferd the infamous Death March to Camp O’Donnell.

Knox wrote a book about his first hand account of the events leading up to and following his capture.

“So much is remembered that 66 years ago Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, but little is remembered that on the same day we were also bombed at Clark Field, 5 hours later,” Knox said.

“With all of our planes lined up in front of the hangars, at the order of Gen. MacArthur, and were totally destroyed on the ground.”

“I was there and subsequently captured by the Japanese five months later and sent to Japan where  I was a slave laborer in a Japanese steel mill for 40 months.”

Knox wrote about the harsh treatment he and others received. He was angry then, and still is, about what happened in the Philipines.

“What I am so bitter about my captivity is that President Roosevelt did not send any help, food medicine, arms, guns or planes to our aid in the Philipines. Instead, he considered Hitler our greatest enemy and sent everything to Europe and left us in the Philipines to be sacrificed.”

Knox often speaks to groups and schools about his experiences. 

From meeting the President to having his portrait painted by a famous artist, his experiences are chronicled in his book, entitled “The Emperor’s Angry Guest.” Signed copies of the book are available. For additional information, contact Knox at (864) 847-8866.

Release time program may be offered in high schools

Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard a report from a State House member who is working toward educational improvements, entertained a request for a new release time program for high school students and discussed building needs during their regular monthly meeting held Nov. 27.

Before getting down to business, the board elected officers. Fred Alexander was elected board chairman, Nancy Upton was elected vice-chair. Joe Pack was elected board secretary and elected to serve on the Alternative School Board.

Upton and Pack were elected to serve on the Career and Technology Center Board.

During the meeting, Mark Edwards made a presentation on the Release Time Christian Education Program and asked board members to approve a pilot program for Palmetto High School.

The program offers Bible instruction for school credits.

The organization has offered the opportunity to participate in the release time program for 10 years to District One middle schools students.

Edwards stated the organization wants to start a program for the high school.

Last year the program had 720 students at six different sites in Anderson and Pickens County.

Of the participants, 69 made a decision for Christ, Edwards said. This year the program included 408 students with 54 making a decision.

The program meets all criteria including having certified teachers, maintaining attendance, testing and grading, Edwards said.

Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler said the district has a policy for the middle schools and the policy needs to be brought back to the board with changes to meet the high school requirements. No action was taken.

House Dist. 8 Rep. Don Bowen updated the board on legislative issues stating he has a vested interest in education in the state.

Bowen said that he wanted to be sure schools were not caught short because of the changes due to property tax reform.

He said he wanted to get rid of PACT testing and is working with others for a big movement in changing how testing is done in South Carolina.

Bowen said he wants to see the state “bring ourselves into the next century without looking like we have to the rest of the country.”

He said he is pushing for a building infrastructure bank providing a dedicated source of funds to school districts for building programs.

He said the immigration issue  and associated cost is one of the hottest topics on the agenda for the legislature.

“The time is right for getting the testing changed and we need to get behind it,” he said.

District One Finance Director Steve Uldrick stated that the District had received the second payment from the state, Tier 3, of $4 million. The payments are from a one cent sales tax that is taking the place of property tax reductions.

Elementary Education Director Jane Harrison reported that the District had received 7 “good” grades on the State report card.

Associate Superintendent David Havird reported that the nutritional services  program had a profit of $32,607. Revenues were $400,676 while expenses were $368,058. He said food and gas prices were “playing havoc” on expenses for the program.

The board unanimously approved a home school request.

They then went into executive session to discuss a contractural matter.

Upon returning to public session, the board approved personnel at the recommendation of Dr. Fowler.

Among approvals were Leave of Absence - Stephanie Allen, Wren Middle School, Grade 7; Coral Arant, Pelzer Elementary, Grade 2.

Resignations - Emily Bolt, Powdersville Middle, Industrial Technology.

Recommendations - Telva Elwell, Pelzer Elementary, ED Self-Contained teacher (.5FTE); Marilynn Hansen, Wren High, English Academic Coach (parttime); Ann Hunt, Wren High, Science Academic Coach (part-time); Sherry Senn, Wren High, Math Academic Coach (part-time).

The next meeting was set for January 8 at 7 p.m.

The board adjourned and then held a work session on the building program for the District. (See related story)

District One needs more classrooms, upgrades

Anderson School District One Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler presented a projected building needs list to the board last week which includes classroom additions to all but three schools, new front entrances for  three elementary schools, camera upgrades for all of the district’s schools, and assorted specific upgrades at various schools.

Dr. Fowler said the needs were based on meeting projected student growth in the District over the next five years and added safety. The plan will hold the district until student enrollment reaches 2000 students, Fowler said.

The following projected building needs were presented:

The District’s nine elementary schools have varied needs including classrooms and new front entrances to improve safety.

Cedar Grove Elementary needs two kindergarten classrooms, five other classrooms, a bookroom/storageroom and a new front entrance with additional office space to accommodate a larger school and to ensure safety.

Palmetto Elementary needs two kindergarten classrooms, six classrooms, workroom/bookroom and new front entrance.

Wren Elementary needs two kindergarten classrooms, 8 other classrooms, an office for the assistant principal, storage/book room, a new front entrance and a bus circle at the side of the building.

Pelzer Elementary needs repair to exterior and interior of the Pelzer Auditorium and repair plaster on the interior of the school.

Spearman Elementary needs include replace restrooms on the grade 3-5 wing, two kindergarten classrooms, six other classrooms and expand kitchen and cafeteria.

Concrete Elementary needs two kindergarten classrooms, 8 classrooms, storage/bookroom, assistant principal’s office and remodel kitchen and cafeteria.

Hunt Meadows and West Pelzer Elementary schools are sufficient to meet expected growth for now.

All elementary schools in the District need upgraded security systems including digital cameras, call back features for P.A. systems and keyless entry for exterior doors.

Wren Middle and Palmetto Middle Schools will each need eight new classroooms in addition to remodeling buildings with new wiring, plumbing, painting and new exterior doors.

Powdersville Middle will need eight new classrooms.

All three middle schools need upgraded security systems including digital cameras, call back features for P. A. systems and keyless entry for exterior doors.

Palmetto and Wren High Schools each have different needs to meet expected growth.

Palmetto High will need six classrooms and expansion of the cafeteria. Athletic needs include expanding the field house, remodel old field house and add bleachers for girls softball and boys baseball.

Wren High will need 16 new classrooms. Options include an addition on site or a new Freshman Academy on a site near the school (for 700 students).  Another alternative would be a new high school (900 students).

Wren athletic needs include a new track and a multipurpose athletic facility for all sports plus restrooms.

Both high schools need upgraded security systems including digital cameras, call back features for P. A. systems and keyless entry for exterior doors.

The board decided to push M. B. Kahn to get building estimates and to possibly hold a work session in December to look at them.

Dr. Fowler said he would follow up with focus group participants providing the figures and have feedback for the board by the next meeting, which is set for January 8 at 7 p.m.

Early deadlines for holidays

Due to the holidays, The Journal will have early deadlines for the Dec.  19 and Dec. 26 issues. Deadline for news, advertising and classifieds for the Dec. 19 issue will be Friday, Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. Deadline for the Dec. 26 issue will be Monday, Dec. 18 at 5 p.m.

The Journal offices will be closed the last week of December. Items for the January 2 issue can be mailed, faxed, emailed or dropped in our drop box at the front entrance.

Seems to Me . . .Who shall steer the ship?

By Stan Welch

By the time you read this, the last County Council meeting of 2007 will be over. The second December meeting, as usual, has been cancelled due to holiday partying and politicking. The first meeting of 2008 has been rescheduled for January 8, because the regular date fell on New Year’s Day. Council meetings are hard enough to sit through without trying it on the day of national recovery.

At that January 8 meeting, a new Chairman will be elected. Actually, the new chairman will be formally elected. The wheeling and dealing is already underway. Current Chairman Bob Waldrep, who outmaneuvered Bill McAbee last time, sending McAbee into a year long snit, will hand the gavel over to one of four other members. I say four because I’m pretty sure Cindy Wilson is out of the running.

After a year in which her fellow Council members accused her of playing some significant role in the “harassment” of county officials, voted to censure her for same, and their vote to confiscate and distribute her recreation funds, it seems unlikely that they would hand her any sort of an instrument that could be wielded against them.

I would also rule Gracie Floyd out as a candidate. For one thing, her performance as chairwoman in 2006 was uneven and often confusing. Besides, the political storm that was caused by an otherwise Republican Council electing the lone Democrat to such a seat in 2006 is unlikely to be risked again in an election year.

Chairman Waldrep will almost certainly heave a huge sigh of relief at relinquishing control of the three ring circus that Council has become. From his statements on the rostrum and elsewhere in public, I get the feeling that he was taken unaware by the level of acrimony and pettiness that he found on the Council.

His shock at the hijacking of Ms. Wilson’s recreations funds, as well as at the Council vote to censure her, was visible. His own rude treatment at the hands of Council members Thompson and McAbee was clearly beyond the pale of any mean spirited or unprofessional behavior he had previously experienced, either as a former member of this same Council, or as a state Senator.

So who is left to wield the gavel? And will it be wielded lightly or as a hammer?

Michael Thompson is currently vice chairman, a circumstance which, coupled with Chairman Waldrep’s refusal to rubberstamp a budget transmittal letter earlier this year, led to a change in procedure that allows the vice chairman to sign such documents without an attendant vote of Council.

But in addition to having a plodding and avuncular style, Thompson has proved himself capable of a very eccentric approach to certain issues. Twice he has made presentations to Council, attacking a local activist organization, equating them to terrorists, and invoking the Homeland Security Act. During one such presentation, he used a term so offensive that the entire segment was removed by Charter Communications from its supposedly complete broadcast of the Council meetings.

He was also one of the ringleaders of the successful effort to stymie Ms. Wilson’s appropriation of her recreation funds, followed two weeks later by his motion to distribute those funds against her wishes. That action brought several of the Mayors in Wilson’s district to Council to complain about the highhanded tactics. Hardly the actions of a bridge builder.

McAbee was an obviously gleeful coconspirator in those actions, as well. He has also developed a reputation as a peripatetic member of the Council who seems unnaturally focused on keeping track of the time allotted to certain subjects on the agenda. He has also served as prosecuting attorney, on behalf of Motorola and the county administrator, against anyone who has dared question the purchase of the 800MHz system. Such aggressive attacks on those trying to perform what they see as their duty as Council members would be far out of line as a Chairman of that Council.

This brings us to Mr. Greer, a past Chairman and the Council’s unofficial expert on Parliamentary procedure. Of course, given this Council’s propensity for ignoring such procedure when it serves them, that qualification loses some of its polish. Still, Greer might well be less vindictive and aggressive as Chairman than either Thompson or McAbee, who both give the appearance of carrying some rather significant grudges.

Greer, if his recent promise to remove personality clashes from the equation can be sustained, may be more willing to bury the hatchet than to grind the axe. That promise has seemed a bit wobbly in recent weeks, however.

But what of Mr. Ron Wilson, lately a darling of the Preston camp because of his willingness to promote certain issues and for his prompt indifference to the question of a full audit?

Has his recent personal debacle concerning the zoning issue weakened him to the point that he cannot forge the coalition that would be needed to wield the gavel? Has he lost the confidence of the one who can force such a coalition?

And what would befall him, if the very Council which he watched askance as they committed some of the nakedly political assaults mentioned above, were to decide to impose zoning on District Six despite Wilson’s avowed change of heart on the matter?

It is entirely within the realm of possibility, because the issue has reached third reading. Just one more vote by a majority of the Council could actually implement district wide zoning against that District’s Council member’s wishes, just as a single vote by a majority took Ms. Wilson’s funds from her hands and gave them to that majority to do with what they wished.

Whether such sweet irony occurs Tuesday night or not, the incoming Chairman faces such issues. Which of the four possible candidates is best suited to steer what passes for a ship of state in Anderson County?

Seems to me, mutiny may be in the offing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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