News Archive

(5004) Week of Dec. 15, 2004

West Pelzer grant to replace water lines, sewer project is questionable
West Pelzer receives $500,000 grant
Williamston experiencing ongoing financial shortfall
Senior Solutions coming to Williamston
District One students among best in State math exam
Officials break ground on airport expanasion
Bi-Lo donation helps fund Operation Care

West Pelzer grant to replace water lines, sewer project is questionable

West Pelzer Mayor Peggy Paxton announced Monday that the town has been awarded a $500,000 community development block grant which will be used to replace water lines in the town.

West Pelzer was one of 27 towns or counties in the state awarded similar grants for water system related improvements under the program.

The grant will be used to replace and upgrade water lines thoughout the town, according to Paxton. “This will change the town,” she said.

The $500,000 grant requires a 10 percent match in funds. Paxton said she isn’t sure where the $50,000 match will come from, but is extremely excited about the grant and the possibilities for the town.

While the town is looking forward to making improvements with the new grant, town officials are considering getting out of a contract that was supposed to solve the town’s sewer problems.

Paxton also said the town is looking to possibly get out of a joint agreement with Pelzer to hook onto the Western Carolina sewer system.

The towns have been involved in a four year effort to meet guidelines and legalities necessary for work to begin on the project.

The project was supposed to provide answers to the sewer treatment problems facing both towns and would replace the sewer lagoons currently being used.

Paxton said that recent improvements being made to the West Pelzer lagoons have encouraged her to consider additional improvements to keep the system in use, and possibly save the residents a huge increase in sewer bills.

She said that DHEC representatives have indicated that with improvements, the current lagoons would be large enough to handle both the Town of West Pelzer and Town of Pelzer’s treatment needs if necessary.

Paxton said she believes making  improvements to the lagoon and keeping it functional will be better for the town in the long run than paying the higher fees that are being charged by Western Carolina.

Paxton said the process has been on hold waiting for USDA Rural Development, which provided a $441,000 loan to be paid back over 40 years and a $495,000 grant for the project.

The loan and grant were approved by Rural Development in 1999 for construction of a sewer line to connect Pelzer and West Pelzer to Western Carolina Sewer.

Paxton said there has been no work done on the project other than the basic paperwork and some legal work.

The project has been on hold while legal problems involving right of way contracts were worked out.

Paxton said Western Carolina will require the town to eventually replace the old sewer lines, which she said will be costly.

“We need to replace sewer lines.” she said. “We will be in trouble if we tie on.”

Paxton said hooking onto Western Carolina would be “devastating” to the town.

“We want to upgrade our plant ourselves,” she said. “We would be paying ourselves back.”

She said with the water infiltration in the sewer lines, the town would be paying triple what it should. She also said that the fees being charged by Western Carolina have increased since the original proposal was made in 1999-2000.

As a result, improvements to the town’s system now look more feasible.

Paxton said she plans to meet with state officials and engineers after the first of the year to look at upgrade plans.

“We have had a 100 percent improvement,” Paxton said, with the town’s sewer facilities passing recent DHEC inspections. “We have done everything they have asked us to do,”

Paxton said the lagoon recently had three loads of sludge, 3200 gallons per load, removed. The town was under a mandate to have the work done by October, but received a 90 day extension from DHEC.

Paxton said that even though the town had until January, “We did it anyway.”

The town is also taking bids on upgrade and replacement work at the sewer treatment pumping station.

Jim Darby of J. D. Electrical Contractors told Council members that the existing electrical service panel is not code compliant. In addition to upgrading and replacing the control panel, Darby said he would replace the two pumps and include a float system that would automatically turn on the second pump in an overflow situation. The new system will provide a prewarning and can be upgraded to include an automated cell phone like system that will print out monthly reports and call operators when there is a problem. It also includes a backup power source.

Darby said  he will provide a new metal structure to house the electrical upgrades.

After the presentation, Paxton said, “This is something we’re going to have to do regardless.”

Council accepted the presentation as information and decided to accept additional bids before continuing.

In other business, Council unanimously approved 3-0 to amend the employee handbook to allow comp time and a two hour minimum for employees who have to come in on weekends or holidays.

Paxton also announced the annual Christmas dinner with the Town of Pelzer to be held Friday at the community building.

Holiday schedules were also discussed. West Pelzer town offices will be closed December 24-27 and will open Dec. 28-30, closing Dec. 31 for the New Year holiday.

West Pelzer awarded $500,000 grant

West Pelzer Mayor Peggy Paxton announced Monday that the town has been awarded a $500,000 community development block grant which will be used to replace water lines in the town.

Making the announcement during the regular monthly meeting of Council, Paxton praised state officials Dan Cooper and Sen. Billy O’Dell for  helping the town get the grant. She also said that citizen input during the public hearings was very instrumental in getting the grant approved.

Paxton said she was, “Extremely excited” about the grant. “This is a blessing for us,” she said.

West Pelzer’s grant is for one of 27 community infrastructure projects that will alleviate problems that affect the public health of the community or provide new or improved access to critical public facilities including water, sewer, and drainage.

The grant will be used to replace and upgrade water lines throughout the town, according to Paxton. “This will change the town,” she said.

The grant proposal included replacing 18,000 linear feet of 2 inch to 4 inch water lines up to 6 to 8 inch. The upgrade will affect 882 persons, more than half are low to moderate income, according to the grant.

The $500,000 grant requires a 10 percent match in funds. Paxton said she isn’t sure where the $50,000 match will come from, but is extremely excited about the grant and the possibilities for the town.

“I want to schedule something with the community and the representatives who worked really hard for us. Without them we wouldn’t have gotten it,” she said.

The Community Development Block Grant is a part of $25 million in funds awarded to 59 projects across the state through the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

The projects will directly benefit more than 76,000 people — the majority of whom reside in the state’s poorest neighborhoods and communities.

“Our administration is all about enhancing South Carolina’s underlying business climate so that the soil conditions for economic growth are there,” said Governor Mark Sanford.

“These grants are all about investing in that underlying business climate—particularly in our rural economies—and we’ll continue to push for reforms like income tax relief that will make South Carolina even more competitive in attracting jobs and capital investment.”

Williamston experiencing ongoing financial shortfall

 The Town of Williamston is having difficulties paying bills, alienating local business owners and putting the town in jeopardy of losing health insurance benefits and garbage disposal privileges.

The  South Carolina Local Government Assurance Group has threatened cancellation of the town’s insurance coverages several times since July of this year because of late or non-payment of premiums.

The SCLGAG provides the town’s property/liability, workers compensation and health insurance coverage through the Municipal Association of South Carolina Risk Management Services.

After being as much as $90,000 behind earlier this year, the town did get caught up on workers compensation and property liability premiums in October, but has experienced delays in paying for the employees health insurance coverage, according to Harvey Mathias, director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina Risk Management Services.

Insurance is not the only area the town is behind on. 

Anderson County is pushing the town to pay $17,700 for delinquent and unpaid commercial solid waste fees for the years of 1999/2000 and 2001/2002, Mayor Phillip Clardy’s first years in office.

In June, 2003, the town committed to pay $2,000 per month on all delinquent fees until the total of $17,700 was paid in full. Williamston Treasurer Michelle Starnes signed the agreement stating the payment terms.

Acording to a Dec. 6 letter sent by County Administrator Joey Preston, the final payment was supposed to have been made no later than February of this year.

The last payment received by the County was dated November 17, 2003, leaving a delinquent balance of $7,400. The letter also states that the County has not received the current amount owed by the Town for 2003-2004, estimated to be $6,400.

The letter states that the town is in danger of being declared in default, with the result being the immediate cessation of solid waste disposal privileges.

Preston has given the Town until December 21 to pay the $13,800 balance in full. Preston said if not paid, the town will be forced to pay for any solid waste taken to the Anderson Regional Landfill rather than being allowed to dump garbage under the County’s waste disposal contract.

The Town of Williamston is also late in making payments to many area businesses that have provided goods or services during  2003 and 2004, according to information and interviews provided to The Journal.

Many of the local businesses have declined to do any more business with the town because of non-payment, they said.

The town has also been behind on payments to the Anderson Regional Joint Water Association, which is the town’s water supplier.

In a September meeting of Council, Mayor Clardy said the town needed $280,000 “to get caught up.”

After meeting behind closed doors in a 75 minute executive session, council returned to regular open session and approved first reading on a Bond Anticipation Note authorizing the town to borrow $400,000.

Councilmembers Greg Cole and Wade Pepper voted against the borrowing proposal which passed with a 3-2 vote.

Clardy originally proposed borrowing $565,000 in a special called meeting June 28.

At that time, the Journal reported that the town was behind on numerous financial obligations including insurance payments to the Municipal Insurance fund.

Clardy said the amount approved by Council will allow the town to get caught up on current debt amounting to $280,000 and provide $120,000 in operating capital to get the town through the end of the year.

There have been several called meetings of council that were announced as budget worksessions, though very little discussion of the budget or the approved BAN has taken place.

Williamston Town Council began discussing borrowing as much as $565,000 as early as June 28.

In September, Council approved first reading on a bond anticipation note of $400,000.

Mayor Clardy said last Wednesday the town is going to meet obligations including the insurance premium payment which is due by the end of the month.

“We met with one bank this morning and have met with others to get the best rates,” Clardy said Dec. 8.

Clardy said even though the BAN was approved in September, there is a 60 day waiting period for issuance of bond notes.

Clardy said the town will move forward and will get through the difficult financial period.

Senior Solutions coming to Williamston

Anderson based Senior Solutions is opening a new senior site in Williamston on January 4 with a ribbon cutting ceremony planned for  10 a.m. at the Caroline Community Center.

The satellite center will offer an ongoing schedule of games, travel opportunities, computer classses as well as seminars addressing the health issues facing seniors and the caregivers, organizers said.

“Our long range goal is to develop a volunteer powered home delivered meal program for the homebound seniors in the Williamston area, Senior Solutions executive director Douglas Wright said.

Currently, Senior Solutions offers three adult daycare sites, home delivered meals, in home care and transportation to senior citizens in Anderson and Oconee County.

“As always, our goal is to improve the quality of life for our area seniors and their caregivers,” Wright said. “This new site is just another step in our ongoing plan to make positive progress towards that goal.”

For more information about the Senior Solutions Williamston Activity Site or any of the upstate facilities, call (864) 225-3370.

District One students among best in State on math exam

Anderson School District One students averaged a scale score of 86.2, equivalent to a grade of B on the state’s 100-point uniform grading scale, on the first-ever end-of-course algebra test administered in the spring of 2004 as mandated by the state’s Education Accountability Act (EAA).  These results place the district among the best in the state.

 “End-of-course exam results are another important tool we will utilize to help assess our standards-based instructional program,” said Dr. R. Wayne Fowler, Superintendent of Anderson One.  “Our district and building administrators along with classroom teachers will use this information to help make sure that all students are receiving the very best possible instruction in this core area in order to assist them to perform at the highest academic levels.”

58 percent of the 560 students tested district-wide in the 2003-04 school year scored an A or B compared to 32 percent of students statewide. Another 21 percent scored a C while 11 percent scored a D, and 10 percent failed the test compared to 21 percent of students across the state.  Scores count for 20 percent of students’ final course grades.  The scoring is accomplished by using a “rapid response scoring system” that returns students’ scores almost immediately thereby allowing them to be included in students’ final grades.

“The scores are indicative of the hard work and solid preparation of our teachers and students in the area of mathematics.  Our scores from the 8th grade honors classes taking the test are particularly gratifying as nearly 98 percent of the students scored at an A or B level with the vast majority of those at an A,” continued Fowler.

The EAA mandates end-of-course tests in benchmark courses for mathematics, English language arts, science, and social studies.  In math, students enrolled in college-prep Algebra 1 courses, as well as students in Mathematics for the Technologies 2, take the new algebra end-of-course test.  Content standards for both courses are the same, although Math for the Technologies students work less with mathematical theory and more with real-world applications.

Last school year was the first time that the scores counted in the final grades of students in Algebra 1 and Math for the Technologies 2 courses.  Scores in English 1, Physical Science and Biology 1/Applied Biology 2 will be counted in students’ final grades this school year.  U.S. History and Constitution is scheduled to be added in the 2006-07 school year.

Airport expansion groundbreaking

Anderson County Councilman Fred Tolly, along with his wife June and others break gound for an $5.2 million expansion project at the Anderson Regional Airport. Anderson County Council members joined approximately 30 airport and business representatives Monday for a groundbreaking ceremony for an expansion project at the Anderson Regional Airport. The airfield was also dedicated to Tolly, who has been a supporter of improvements at the airport and has a vision of the airport as a hub for distribution companies, capitalizing on Anderson’s location midway between Atlanta and Charlotte. “I think is is going to be a tremendous asset,” he said. The federally funded project will add 1,000 feet to the airport’s main runway.

Bi-Lo donation helps fund Operation Care

Pelzer Bi-Lo store manager Todd Creamer recently presented the Palmetto Baptist Association with a check for $3,481.

The money was collected for Operation Care, an all volunteer effort that the Palmetto Baptist Association has made for the past five years. 

The year round project provides food, clothing and assistance including housing, rent, medical assistance and other needs, according to Kathy Cannon, director of Operation Care.

The project is based in a house located between the Jockey Lot and Whitefield Baptist Church, at the intersection of Old Williamston Road and Mitchell Road.

It is staffed by 12 volunteers and funded entirely through donations, Cannon said.

The ministry provides enough food for one week for approximately 100 families, or 300 people per month.

It is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.

Local churches provide donations and Bi-Lo is one of the big contributors, Cannon said.

“Each year Bi-Lo gets the chance to give back to our communities money which is designated to local charities,” Pelzer Bi-Lo manager Todd Creamer said.

The funds are raised through a Charity Classic Golf Tournament sponsored by Bi-Lo’s local vendors and national brand companies, according to Creamer.

“Each year has been a great success and millions of dollars each year are donated to local charities,” he said. “This year Bi-Lo also reached out into the communities by selling golf balls for $1 each with the proceed also going to local charities.”

“Bi-Lo in Pelzer is proud to present a check to Operation Care in the amount of $3,481 to help disperse foods to needy families and different needs that may occur throughout the year,” Creamer said when presenting the check.

“I personally want to say thank you” to all the customers who shop at your Pelzer Bi-Lo store and want to say it is your generous donations as well as the Charity Classic that made this possible,” he said. “May God bless you this holiday season.”

The 2004 Bi-Lo Charity Classic golf tournament, which took place June 14, raised more than $3.7 million.

It is recognized as the nation’s largest one-day benefit golf tournament, hosting more than 1,140 amateur golfers on eleven Upstate golf courses.

The tournament raises funds for charitable organizations in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

Founded in 1984 as a fundraiser for Meals On Wheels of Greenville, Bi-Lo’s golf tournament has raised more than $23 million since its begining, placing funding emphasis on hunger relief programs, childrens’s charities and education.

Each Bi-Lo supermarket receives $1,000 from the tournament to assist a local charity. With an additional $1 fundraising campaign, Bi-Lo stores raised an additional $442,000 with the scan donations.










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