News Archive

(5007) Week of Dec. 12, 2007

WP Council approves gas cards; town to get website
Santa Express draws crowds
County Transportation Committee funds projects
Cooper, O’Dell honored  for economic development
Release time program may be offered in high schools
District One needs more classrooms, upgrades
Solicitor to decide if shooting incident merits prosecution
Thefts, alcohol related incidents investigated
Seems to Me  . . .How prepared are we?

WP Council approves gas cards; town to get website

By Stan Welch

The West Pelzer Town Council Monday night unanimously approved applying for a credit card from the Hickory Point gas station and convenience store, for use by police officers and other town employees when operating town vehicles.

The program offered by the convenience store chain, and described by local store manager Brian O’Dell, would offer various levels of accountability. “The use of the cards can be restricted to the purchase of fuel only, or even to only certain types of fuel. The records will indicate the date and time that the card was used, as well as the location of the store. We can also monitor the hours of purchase. In other words, the card can be authorized for use except for after business hours or on weekends. Such use would be reflected on the records, so that you would know about it pretty quickly,” said O’Dell.

Councilman Mike Moran said the proposal to use only Hickory Point as a fuel source amounted to micro-management. 

“We hire professionals. We don’t need to tell them where they can buy gas. I don’t even think this is a decision for Council. This is an administrative decision and should have been handled that way,” he said.

Councilman Joe Turner disagreed saying it was a decision for the Council, adding, “This will let us keep up with things better.” The vote to apply for the cards was unanimous. It should take from 3-4 weeks for the accounts to be established.

Council also unanimously instructed Town Clerk Paula Payton to issue checks reimbursing all donors to a now defunct account to purchase a drug dog for the town. Reimbursement has been delayed for years, as efforts were made to find a way to refund charitable donations by working through the organization that provides the dogs.

“We will just issue checks from the account and count it as a loss,” said Mayor Paxton, after Councilman Jimmy Jeanes raised the issue once again. The existing account will be closed once the reimbursements are made.

The Council spent twenty six minutes in executive sessions discussing a delinquent account held by a former town employee. No action was taken and no votes cast as a result of the session.

Mayor Paxton reported on a meeting she recently held with representatives of the Rural Development Administration concerning the Town’s grant to extend its sewer system. The grant has been in place for several years as the Town has pursued various options in dealing with its wastewater problems. “We have spoken with these folks and others involved and we’ve decided to address our ingress and infiltration problems with that money before we decide which wastewater option to pursue. It just makes sense because we have to solve that problem no matter where we send the wastewater for treatment.”

Ingress and infiltration refers to rain water that gets into leaky sewer lines and goes through the treatment plant even though it is not wastewater. 

“That significantly affects the town’s treatment capacity, as well as its expense in treating wastewater and disposing of it.”

Councilman Moran indicated that such an approach might even alleviate the Town’s need for any new treatment and disposal options. 

“If we reduce the I&I as much as it seems like we might, we may be able to keep handling our own wastewater treatment.”

Mayor Paxton also announced that the Town is in the process of constructing an official website. 

“This will be a great asset to the town. It will let people know all the good things going on here, and will let them learn about our history and our plans for the future.”

Santa Express draws crowds

In addition to appearing at two area parades Saturday, Santa Claus visited with children at five stops along the  The Greenville and Western Railway Company as he traveled from Honea Path to Pelzer in a  special caboose that was pulled by an GRLW Engine.

“We were overwhelmed by the response, Owner and Engineer Steve Hawkins said. Hawkins estimated more than fifty people were at each stop. 198 were at Belton and approximately 100 at Pelzer.

At each stop, children had the opportunity to step on board Santa’s caboose and tell Old Saint Nick exactly what they want for Christmas. They also received a treat and a photo. Santa then drew three lucky names to receive special gifts from his bag before the train departed. The grand prize at each stop was a Lionel train set.

“We wanted to do something for the community to show how thankful we are to be here,” Hawkins said. Hawkins said he had the idea from a railway he worked with in Missouri.

“Based on the experience,” he said, “we will do it again.”

Hawkins said the company invested about $2,000 for the prizes given away. “The kids enjoy it,” he said.

The Santa Express had stops in Honea Path, Belton, Cheddar, Williamston and last stop in Pelzer (at the old depot). Though they were running a little late and it was dark when the train got to Pelzer, they were greeted by another large crowd.

The Western Carolina Railway Service Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Carolina Railway Service Corporation (WDRS). It 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.

County Transportation Committee funds projects

By Stan Welch

The Anderson County Transportation Committee met Monday afternoon, and pledged more than one hundred forty three thousand dollars for the resurfacing of Academy Street in Williamston.

The pledge came after Rusty Burns, who accompanied mayor pro tem Otis Scott to speak in support of the request, made it plain that the Town was offering patience in return for consideration. “Mr. Chairman, we will be very happy if this is approved this month, or next month, or even the month after that. We would simply like to be able to report to the two industries along that road that help is on the way.”

Scott echoed that sentiment, saying, “Both the mills in Williamston are on that road and it is heavily traveled by our citizens in general as well. But the word of this committee has always been good, and this committee has been very helpful in the past, so we are happy to take this promise  back to Williamston.”

Anderson County Transportation Director, Holt Hopkins, accepted the offered patience, explaining that the application for the funds was less than complete. “We would ask that this matter be held until we receive a resolution from the Williamston Town Council in support of this request.” Burns and Scott assured him such a resolution would be forthcoming.

Perhaps in acknowledgement of the Town’s accommodating attitude, Hopkins informed the Committee that a short stretch of that road is outside the town’s limits. “We would recommend that when this project starts, that the work be extended along that stretch as well. “ The estimated cost for that aspect of the project is twenty five thousand dollars.

Belton Mayor Rufus Callaham, Town Administrator David Watson, and town consultant Bob Burriss also appeared seeking, and ultimately, receiving more than thirty thousand dollars for the paving of Timberlane Drive. “We are here, members of the committee, seeking not justice, but mercy,” said Burriss, drawing both laughter and approval of the request.

Cooper, O’Dell honored  for economic development

Two well known elected officials have been honored for their efforts to encourage economic development. Senator Billy O’Dell, District 4, and Rep. Dan Cooper, District 10, were named 2007 SCEDA Legislator of the Year by the South Carolina Economic Development Association, for their efforts to sponsor and support legislation which encourages economic development efforts in the state.

The SCEDA is a professional association of more than 600 members who work to advance economic development, Burnie Maybank, SCEDA board member, praised both men for their efforts.

Rep. Cooper is Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, as well as several other committees of the House of Representatives. Senator O’Dell was the Legislator of the Year in 2000, and is a recipient of the Palmetto Award, the state’s highest honor.

“This is of course an honor, but the most important thing is that we continue our efforts to create an atmosphere that encourages the creation of jobs and the broadening of the tax base. In an area of the state which has seen the textile industry seriously impacted in recent years, job creation is a key issue,” said O’Dell.

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.

Solicitor to decide if shooting incident merits prosecution

By Stan Welch

The fate of a Belton man charged with assault and battery with intent to kill rests with Solicitor Chrissy Adams, who is expected to receive the case sometime in the next few days for a decision on whether to prosecute the case.

On December 7, Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Voigt was dispatched to Cannon Bottom Road in response to a report of a shooting incident. According to the sparse incident report filed by Voigt, there were no serious injuries as a result of the incident. Voigt quickly turned the investigation over to detectives who arrived at the scene.

 Chief Deputy Creed Hashe provided some further detail concerning the incident, and said that Solicitor Adams would be given the case soon. “Technically, we’re still investigating, but in fact, the detectives are just about ready to present the case to the Solicitor,” said Hashe.

According to the additional information provided, Terry Wayne Knight, of 2243 Cannon Bottom Road, returned home at approximately 2:20 p.m. Upon arrival, he allegedly found Paul Michael Fisher, of 1515 Cannon Bottom Road, on his property. Fisher, WM, 35, 5’9", 175 pounds, was ordered from the property, according to Knight’s statement to investigators.

Knight also says that Fisher refused to leave the property and that he, Knight, went in his house and got a twelve gauge shotgun. Knight says he fired two rounds into the air and one round into the ground near his house, where he stood. Fisher, who told investigators he and some friends were picking up aluminum cans along the road, claimed he had been shot, and called 911.

Knight acknowledged firing three rounds, and the empty shotgun hulls were found in his yard. An area in the ground where he said he fired the round into the ground was also visible, said Hashe.

One person was with Fisher, but apparently did not see the incident. “They said they heard shouting and gunshots but did not see what happened.”

Thefts, alcohol related incidents investigated

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated incidents  ranging from thefts to assaults and even an intoxicated man wandering onto the Interstate. Among incidents investigated were:

BELTON

Dec. 1 – R.S. Thompson responded to 4530 Hwy. 29 to the Jockey Lot where Nickie Davis reported that someone had stolen several items from his truck, including a deer stand, a Ridgid tool kit containing several power tools. The loss was estimated at $760.

Dec. 2 – E.F. Kelley was dispatched to the Jockey Lot on Hwy. 29 where Eddie Cumbee reported the theft of his wallet from his truck while he was inside.

Dec.4 – M.J. Burns responded to 1410 Cox Lake Rd. where Allen Pruitt, Jr. reported that someone had broken into his house and stolen a variety of furniture including beds, cabinets, lamps and other items valued at $1440.

Dec. 5- J.R. Finley was dispatched to 349 Blake Dairy Rd. where Stacey Riddle reported the theft of five live Christmas trees from the location. The loss was estimated at $300.

Dec. 8 – M.J. Burns responded to 6129 Belton Hwy. where Scott Flavel of Planet Ford reported the theft of a 2008 Ford Super Crew F-150 truck valued at $35,015.

Dec. 8 – M. Voigt conducted an investigation of false merchandise being sold at the Jockey Lot. He found that Carl Jackson , BM, 37, 5’10", 415 pounds ,bald/brn was selling counterfeit CDs and DVDs. More than 300 units were confiscated. Jackson stated that his friend Lamont Allen had gone to pay for the booth. Both men were also named in reports issued in relation to a large scale raid at the Jockey Lot two weeks ago.

PELZER

Dec. 2 – S. Proner was dispatched to Rogers Road where the mailboxes at three addresses on that road had  damage. At one address, Jerry Jennings heard the noise and saw a blue SUV riding along the road striking mailboxes. He said he followed the vehicle to 181 Garrett Road where it turned into a driveway. Not wanting to be involved in an altercation, Jennings reportedly drove past, but was unable to get a license tag #.

Dec. 4 – J.T. Bowers responded to 19 Allen St. where Crystal Smith reported that someone had broken into her residence and ransacked the house throwing clothes and kitchen items out into the floor. She found nothing missing and the area was placed on the keep check list.

Dec. 4 – R. D. Smith was dispatched to 104 Law St. where Brent Bruce reported that someone had thrown a grill through his living room window.

Dec. 8 – W. E. Gregory was dispatched to 202 Old River Rd. where Gordan Ferrell reported that he had seen smoke from the incident location and   discovered a truck burning with no one around. Shane Allen Hall, who lives at that address, advised that he had sold the vehicle to Randy Kennedy of 168 Old Pelzer Rd. Kennedy had been waiting on Allen to repair the carburetor which had been flooding. Allen said the truck had been in a different spot prior to catching fire. The fire is considered suspicious according to the report. WPFD Chief Dale Mahaffey said he could not determine the cause of the fire.

Dec. 9 – M. J. Burns was dispatched to 929 Campbell Rd. where Michael Hayes reported a threatening phone call made to him. Deputy Burns heard and recorded the messages left and was to present them to a judge in pursuit of a warrant.

PIEDMONT

Nov. 27 – G. M. Hayden received report from DSS that a two year old child, whose identity was withheld, had tested positive for opiates as the result of a drug screen.

Dec. 2- J.R. Finley was dispatched to 110 Dogwood Court where Larry Silver stated that someone had stolen a Moped from under his shed. It was valued at $900.

Dec. 5 – W.B. Simpson responded to Academy St. where Edward Poore, Jr. reported that John Willis, WM, 42, had threatened to beat him up. The threats were made in the presence of witnesses, according to Simpson’s report. Poore did not wish to press charges but simply to document the incident.

Dec. 7 – J.T. Bowers responded to 100 Evelyn Lane where Mark Canady reported being cut on the arm with a sharp object by a man. Bowers took photos of the injury and the investigation continues.

Dec.7 – T.L. Chapman was dispatched to 110 Wood Creek Dr. where Eric Gerisch reported that someone had broken into his truck and stolen his Heckler and Koch .40 caliber pistol, valued at $700.

 Dec. 9 –J.T. Bowers observed a white Ford Expedition at the intersection of Shiloh Church Road and Highway 17 with the driver passed out at the wheel. The deputy opened the driver’s door to try and revive him and saw that the vehicle was still in gear, and the driver, Brandon Garrison, BM, 21, 5’10", 250 pounds, blk/brn, of Greenville had his foot on the brake. Bowers put the car in park and removed the keys. Garrison was roused enough to be placed under arrest for suspicion of DUI. The test result was .07 and he was arrested for driving with an unlawful concentration of alcohol.

WILLIAMSTON

Dec. 2 – P.D. Marter was dispatched to 825 Joe Black Rd. where Rhonda Holder reported the theft of a pressure washer and 250 feet of spray hose was stolen from her truck. The unit was valued at $2150.

Dec. 5 – T.B. Dugan responded to 104 Lazy Willow Court where Michael Colombo reported that his neighbor, Marshall Cash, WM, 50, 5’11", 195 pounds, brn/blue had challenged him to a fight. While Dugan was talking to Colombo and Cash’s wife, Cash came down the driveway yelling threats at Colombo. He was arrested by Dugan for simple assault and transported to ACDC.

Dec. 5 – S. Proner arrived at 321 Mitchell Rd, where Andrew Deaton reported someone had gone into his carport and stolen a variety of meat from his freezer, including sausage, deer meat, turkeys; and riding gear for a dirt bike. The total loss was estimated at $453.

Dec. 6 – K.D. Pigman was dispatched to 825 Joe Black Road where he arrested Jacob Higgins, WM, 24 of 108 McCalister Rd. on an active warrant.

Dec. 8 – M. Voigt responded to the area around the Hwy. 8 exit from I-85. A report had been received of an intoxicated subject walking down the Interstate. Clifford Frank, WM, 24, 5’11", 135 pound, brn/brn was discovered near the 31 mile marker on the Interstate. He had reportedly been wandering into the Interstate itself, and was found to be unsteady on his feet. He was arrested for public disorderly conduct and transported to ACDC.

Seems to Me  . . .How prepared are we?

By Stan Welch

 Last week, U.S. Congressman Gresham Barrett was in Williamston to meet with representatives of the town’s two remaining textile mills, as well as with several elected officials, including Mayor Phillip Clardy, Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and Senator Billy O’Dell.

While the Congressman’s appearance is more likely designed to begin the exploratory meanderings of a potential gubernatorial candidate than not, his discussions with the representatives of the Cushman and Mount Vernon Mills raised a number of interesting points.

Clearly, both mills and their owners are struggling to remain viable in the global market that has exploded in recent years, often with the assistance of the U.S. Congress, and at the expense of state and local economies across the South. They face the challenge of the use of what is essentially slave labor by many foreign competitors, the absence of regulatory demands on foreign producers, an unbalanced trade system, an increasingly threatening currency manipulation by China, and the loss of intellectual control of methods and technologies, not to mention what some see as a betrayal by their own government.

Seen in the light of reality, it is remarkable that these companies have managed to survive. Yet both acknowledge that they are shrinking, both in terms of market share and the number of jobs they can provide. Congressman Barrett’s optimism about the future of the textile industry was measured at best.

He was hopeful that the industry might hold its own, in the short term, but offered no encouragement that it will ever regain the ground it has lost, since free trade became the watchword of American business.

What then does this mean to Williamston and its economy? The town has seen the number of jobs shrink, even as mills in Pelzer have closed and been torn down. Those stark brick walls which stand along the Saluda for the time being, are ruins of a past world, just as surely as the pueblos in the American Southwest, or the marble ruins of Greece and Italy.

Faced with the realities of a global marketplace, what steps should the people of Williamston and surrounding areas take to prepare themselves for what is to come? Surely they must do more than they have done so far.

Efforts to upgrade infrastructure to allow for growth are underway, but serious challenges in those areas still exist. Some consider the current efforts to be misguided and potentially costly beyond justification. Even if such fears are unfounded, what encouragement is being given to economic development?

Residential development is steady if unspectacular, but there is little if any promise of industrial or manufacturing development. The biggest economic news in recent months is a local developer’s purchase and renovation of the old Winn Dixie site. While certainly welcome, and deserving of the town’s best wishes, a project of such inherently limited scope is not a major step forward in the town’s adjustment to its changing circumstances.

The term ‘bedroom community’ is often heard in relationship to Williamston and to West Pelzer and the surrounding areas. But does the business community, much less the general population, possess the flexibility and the open-mindedness needed to create such an atmosphere? To attract those who work in Greenville but do not wish to live there, the suitors in this courtship must be willing to cook a fine meal, pour a glass of fine wine and offer more than one supermarket for the residents to shop at.

Is this area prepared to make the changes it must make to attract those who would live and play someplace besides where they work? Is this area even preparing to make those changes? And what if those changes are successfully made? What happens in ten or fifteen years, when the economic picture changes again? What happens when the bedroom communities move even farther from the center of that economy, when the grass becomes greener further down the road?

How far ahead is far enough to look? Ask those people who manage and own the mills. They seem to have learned the lesson that one can never rest, never assume that all is well, at least not without putting one’s welfare at risk. Seems to me that’s a lesson those who would govern might do well to study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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