News Archive

Week of Dec. 11, 2002  

Town approves  $1.36 million 2003 enterprise fund budget
West Pelzer approves zoning change
Winter ice storm leaves area without electricity
Piedmont, Williamston parades this Saturday

Winter ice storm leaves area without electricity

A storm that caused the most extensive damage in Duke Power’s 100-year history left more than half of the company’s customers in North Carolina and South Carolina without electricity Dec. 5.

Though the majority of the damage was in North Carolina, 277,000 South Carolinians found themselves without power. During the aftermath of the storm, 27,200 power outages were reported in Anderson County.

Anderson County EMS Director Tommy Thompson said his office received 1,150 calls beginning 5 p.m. Wednesday. His office immediately activated an emergency operations center manned by eight staffers who worked through the night to handle three times the normal volume of calls. The Salvation Army prepared a shelter with 24 spaces for anyone displaced by the storm.

Fortunately, there were no serious injuries or deaths as a result of the storm since the brunt of the storm landed north. Most local roadways experienced no severe icing. Most of the damage in the area resulted from trees being crushed under the weight of the ice causing limbs to snap and power lines to be broken.

Anderson School District One closed schools Thursday and Friday due to power outages. Spearman Elementary, Pelzer Elementary, West Pelzer Elementary, Cedar Grove Elementary, Palmetto Elementary, Palmetto Middle School, and Palmetto High School were all without power until midday Friday. School officials are delaying a decision about makeup days until later on in the school year. There is a possibility that the makeup days will be March 10 and May 20 if no further days are missed due to weather. All schools resumed their normal schedules Dec. 9.

The Town of Williamston experienced widespread problems due to the damage to many trees. Green Street and A Street were blocked off Wednesday night due to the damage according to Street Department Supervisor Joe Sullens. He said it will take his crews some time to clear all the debris left in the wake of the storm.

Williamston Police Chief Richard Turner said Williamston officers were busy during the ice storm late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

“Our officers were out all night pulling limbs and trees from the roadways and dealing with downed powerlines,” Turner said.

Turner said there were no injuries that he was aware of. “Most people stayed home,” he said.

Turner said the emergency generator at the Police Department was off and on throughout the period.

Williamston fire Chief Steve Ellison said  Williamston firefighters also dealt with downed trees and powerlines throughout the town.

A house on Crawford St. had severe damage due to a large tree which crashed through the roof.

Downed power lines and other damage was reported on Lander St., in the Mill Village, Tripp St., Parker St. and North Hamilton and Minor, Ellison said.

The Williamston Fire department responded to 23 calls Wednesday night and Thursday morning including one structure fire that started in a breaker box as a result of the ice storm, Ellison said.

True Value Hardware was able to remain open for business using power from generators.

Manager Jim Simpson reported a virtual sellout of large heaters, flashlights, and batteries.

“We were able to get a supply of reconditioned kerosene heaters from a local supplier which really helped a lot of our customers. Our clerks navigated through the store with flashlights to help customers find what they needed,” Simpson added.

Keith Saylors, Moore’s store manager, admitted that his store was able to operate on limited power Friday using only about one-half of the registers. “We are sorry for the inconvenience all this caused and welcome our customers back now that we are operating normally,” a frustrated Saylors stated.

BellSouth generated its own electricity to keep phones ringing for the vast majority of its customers in the upstate. Approximately 26,000 customers were out of service in the area. BellSouth deployed an additional 190 generators to the upstate to help ensure continuity of service.

Duke Power District Manager John Geer admitted that the storm “stripped the Duke system.” Geer continued, “Hurricane Hugo involved 690,000 power outages. This storm affected 1.3 million of our customers in the Carolinas. Damage to trees in North Carolina has been unbelievable.”

Crews have come from as far away as Michigan and Texas to assist in the effort, according to Geer. He emphasized that just feeding and housing the additional 4,300 workers from 15 states has been “like handling an army.”

“It is taking a heroic effort to recover from this natural disaster,” Geer commented. The current power restoration effort involves more than 12,000 people. At press time, approximately 284 miles of wire, 583 transformers, and 175 poles had been installed. Duke Power had handled more than one million calls through its service center. Over 500 special air shipments had delivered supplies to assist in the effort.

“We will continue to work around the clock until everyone has electricity,” Geer emphasized. Duke Power had predicted it would restore 90% of customer outages systemwide by midnight Dec. 11. That goal was achieved earlier than projected and was completed early  Wednesday morning. Company officials expect to achieve 100% restoration by midnight Dec. 14.

At press time, there were still approximately 127,000 Duke Power customers  without power. Most  were in the Charlotte area. South Carolina had 2,200 outages remaining, 1,600 of which were in the Spartanburg area.

 Restoration may be longer for customers with individual service or equipment problems. Customers may experience scattered outages over the next few weeks as lines continue to be repaired, according to Geer.

“We want to thank all our customers for their patience. Fortunately for Anderson County, there was much less damage than in other areas,” Geer stated.

West Pelzer approves zoning change

West Pelzer Town Council approved a zoning change request by trailer park owner Jerry Adkins to allow five year old mobile homes in trailer parks within the Town limits.

Council voted 2-1 to change the Town ordinance wording that previously allowed only three year old mobile homes.

Councilmen Bud Brown and Earl Brown voted for the change. Council member Maida Kelly voted against the change. Kelly had asked council to table the request until a later date.

Mayor Bill Alexander said the change would allow Adkins to replace older trailers in the park sooner.

Alexander said the Town is in the process of looking for funding to help extend a water line along Hwy. 8 to provide water and to help an area that is suffering from low water pressure.

Anderson County has already agreed to help with $10,000, Alexander said. Approximately $40,000 is needed for the project, according to Alexander.

Council thanked Peggy Paxton for her efforts in organizing West Pelzer’s Christmas parade held Saturday.

The parade was the first in the Town in 40 years, officials said

Council also thanked Kevin Paxton, Debbie Young for their help.

Chief Anthony Smith also recognized State Constables Sgt. Kent Cole, Martin Elrod, Jack Campbell, Don Klyce, Rod Pagan and Emmett Tucker, Jr.

Paxton said she was pleased with the turnout for the parade, with 42 entries.

A highlight of the West Pelzer parade was Santa Claus riding in an authentic Amish carriage provided and driven by Jewel Paxton of Gray Court.

Town approves $1.36 million 2003 enterprise fund budget

The 2003 enterprise fund (water and sewer department) budget approved at the Dec. 2 meeting of Williamston Town Council shows a $15,694 increase over the 2002 budget. The following items are the main differences in the budget from last year:

 Salaries are $360,297 for 2003, up from $310,877; social security and retirement are up by $9,850.

Wage overtime allotment of $36,842 has been cut out as has a camera loan payment of $30,000.

Vehicle expense is budgeted at $2,000 more that last year.

Uniforms are budgeted at $9,000, up from $7,000.

Chemicals are budgeted at $25,000, up from $23,000.

Utilities are budgeted at $68,000, up from $40,000.

Repairs and maintenance has been cut from $30,000 to $18,000.

Lab fees have increased from $2,000 to $19,000.

Permits/DHEC fees have been increased from $2,000 to $11,000.

Professional fees have been increased to $42,000 from $6,000.

Supplies and expense are budgeted at $80,000, up from $50,000.

Expected water usage fees have  been decreased to $239,704, from $262,182.

Anticipated revenue for the enterprise fund includes water and sewer  billing of $1,317,694.36, tap fees, $40,000 and reconnect fees, $11,000, for total revenues of $1,368,694.36.

Expenditures for the water and sewer departments are also expected to be $1,368.694.36.

General expenditures for the enterprise fund include: loan repaid to general fund, $36,000; sewer truck payment, $17,000; insurance, $20,000; professional fees, $17,000 and bond consolidation fees, $306,190.56.

Water department expenditures are broken down by administration, street and sewer expenditures.

Administration expenditures include $107,494.40 for salaries; $8,223.32 for social security and medicare; $7,202.12 for retirement; $13,232.25 for health insurance and a three percent wage increase effective Jan. 1, 2003, $3,224.83; for total expected expenditures of $139,376.92.

 Water  department (street) expenditures include salaries, $220,168; social security and medicare, $16,842.85; retirement, $14,751.26; health insurance, $28,228.80l; and wage increase, $6,605.04;

Other expenditures include: vehicle expense/repair, $8,000; uniforms, $8,000; repairs and maintenance, $8,000; lab fees, $3,000; permits/DHEC fees, $10,000; professional fees, $25,000; supplies and expense, $50,000; and water purchase (AJRWA) $239,704.92. Total expenditures for the water department (street) are budgeted at $646,300.87.

Water department (sewer) salaries are $32,635.20; social security, $2,496.59; retirement, $2,186.56; health insurance $3,528.60; 3 percent wage increase, $979.06; vehicles expence/repair, $2,000; uniforms, $1,000; chemicals, $25,000; utilities, $60,000; repairs and maintenenace, $10,000; lab fees, $16,000; permits/DHEC fees, $1,000; supplies and expense, $30,000. Total expenditures for the  sewer department total $186,826.01.

Not included in the 2003 budget figures are the balance forwarded from 2002, standing balance accounts forwarded and growth revenue of developments.

Piedmont, Williamston parades this Saturday

Williamston and Piedmont residents will celebrate the season with Christmas parades scheduled in both towns on the same day.

The Piedmont Christmas parade will be held at 11 a.m. on Dec. 14. The theme will be “Joy to the World.” There is a $5 entry fee to help cover expenses, organizers said.

Entry forms are available at the Piedmont Fire Department. The Bonnes Amies Club is sponsoring the parade.

The parade will begin at CCB on Hwy. 86 in Anderson County and will continue to the intersection of Main St. and Hwy. 20 in Greenville County.

Hometown Heroes will again be honored and will ride on a float in the parade. “We feel that we should honor our veterans every year so that we can show them our appreciation for the sacrifices they endured for us,” organizer Betty White said.

Anyone interested in riding on the float must be a veteran of any war or served in any branch or service.

Veterans will be seated in a trolley type car. There will also be a lunch provided for the veterans in the Howard Room of the First Baptist Church immediately after the parade.

First and second places will be awarded in the following categories: Commercial, Religious, bands, and first place for best over-all theme. Judges will be located in front of the  Piedmont Fire Department.

A list of winners will be posted after the parade at the Fire Department, organizers said. Winners can also pick up prizes there.

For more informatin call Betty White at 845-5543 or Maxie Freeman at 244-3435.

The Williamston Christmas Parade will be held at 3 p.m. Dec. 14.

Parade organizer Walt Smith said that members of the Sesquicentennial committee and pageant winners will lead the parade. There is no fee for entry. Anyone interested in participating in the parade may sign up in advance by calling Walt Smith at 847-7929 or Annette Drake at 847-5599 or register the day of the parade.

Participants are asked to gather on Hamilton St. near Fort Hill Natural Gas office for the parade which will proceed along Greenville Dr., East Main and West Main to the Williamston Fire Department, where judging will be held.

Several categories will be included for judging. A rain date of 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 has been scheduled should the Saturday parade have to be canceled, Smith said. Announcements will be made on WRIX radio if necessary, according to Smith.

Members of the Sesquicentennial Committee will have souvenir items for the Town’s 150th anniversary. The items will be available in front of Town Hall. Items will be availabe inside if rain, according to Lt. Col. Mike Creamer, committee chairman.



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