News Archive

(5206) Week of Dec. 27, 2006

Council ends year with budget and a full plate
County addresses new development, landfill concerns
Council resolution attempts to censure Wilson’s questions
County Council honors Dees with resolution
Arson suspected in recent fire
Seems to Me . . . Reputations

Looking Back at 2006

Council ends year with budget and a full plate

Three members of Williamston Town Council attended a meeting held Tuesday, Dec. 19. in which the 2007 budget was approved and a preview of the first of the year was laid out.

Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr., Otis Scott and Mayor Phillip Clardy unanimously approved second reading on the 2007 budget. Council members Greg Cole and David Harvell were not present at the meeting.

Before approving the budget, Mayor Clardy said that town officials are considering changing the fiscal year from Jan. to Dec. to  July through June. If the change is approved, a second budget for the new period designated FY 2007-2008, will be discussed and approved by Council mid year. There will also be two audits, one on 2006 and one on the first six months of 2007, he said.

Councilman Scott made the motion to accept the budget.

During discussions, Councilman Middleton proposed shifting money from several accounts to help pay for a new police vehicle. Middleton suggested taking $12,500 allocated to jail dispatch, $8,500 from utilities, phones and place the $21,000 into a capital reserve vehicle fund. He also suggested $5000 be taken out of the supplies and expense account and put into the vehicle police account for repairs needed on the vehicles.

Middleton said that he had discussed the proposals with Chief David Baker and that the chief was in favor. Four vehicles in the department are five years old and wearing out, he said. Two need transmissions.

Clardy then offered an amendment to set aside money from the professional fee audit line item of $10,000 and the special audit line item, also $10,000, to be used for a grant writer.

Councilman Middleton said that he would like to see an combines administrator -grantwriter position and suggested leaving the issue “until we get a full council.”

Clardy withdrew his motion and the 2007 budget ordinance was approved unanimously with Middleton’s amendments.

There was discussion on the old city hall, but issues raised only led to more questions.

Councilman Middleton said that it could cost as much to move it as the town received for it from the auction sale.

Questions were raised about the  liability of the property due to asbestos, lead paint and other legal liabilities as far as cleanup.

Councilman Scott made a motion to donate the building back to Jim Simpson who purchased the property.

Town attorney Richard Thompson attempted to clarify if the property was sold with the understanding that it would be moved. and said that the issue needs to be resolved.

Council asked the attorney to look into the terms of the sale.

Scott amended his motion to take a final vote on the issue to move, tear down or donate the property by the Jan. 8 meeting.

Mayor Clardy said that the spirit of the discussion about the sale was to try to salvage the building.

Council unanimously approved Scott’s motion.

There was again discussion about hiring a grant writer with Clardy pushing to rehire fired grantwriter Rusty Burns. Councilman Middleton resisted citing a lack of a job description, a resume, pay terms and an application.

Councilman Scott made a motion to reinstate Burns, but after more discussion it was determined that the position will be advertised and applications taken.

“We have a fresh start here, we need to start fresh,” Middleton said.

Scott amended his motion to state that position will be advertised and applications must be submitted by interested parties by Jan. 8.

The motion was unanimously approved.

Councilman Middleton suggested the old water treatment plant be cleaned up and used for storage to hopefully prevent additional vandalism.

He also suggest the town set up a calendar committee to help eliminate confusion on trash pickup for holidays and other events.

The next meeting of Council will be held on Monday, January 8.

County addresses new development, landfill concerns

By Stan Welch

Last week’s County Council meeting began badly for District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, and got progressively worse.

Often isolated and at odds with the majority of Council, Wilson suffered her first defeat before the minutes of the last meeting were approved.

Councilman Michael Thompson moved to amend those minutes by expunging several pages of verbatim text read into the record by Wilson at the last Council meeting. That material consisted of four disclosure forms Wilson had sent to County Administrator Joey Preston, concerning the disbursement of a lease buyout associated with the purchase of the old Kroger property for use as County offices.

Preston had declined to forward three of the forms to the other parties, and refused to complete his. Wilson instead read three of the four in their entirety into the record, before time for her presentation, which was placed on the agenda, ran out. Thompson cited Roberts Rules of Order and provisions on the decorum of speech, which addresses using individuals names and other information, in asking that the forms be expunged from the record.

Wilson protested, saying, “That is my presentation, as placed on the agenda. Every member has the right to present information.”

Councilwoman Gracie Floyd, who would later have other issues with Wilson, (see related story elsewhere in this issue) expressed her wholehearted support for the motion to amend.

Councilman Bill McAbee, tabbed to chair the Council next year, stated that he had opposed previous efforts to remove material from the public record, and would oppose it in this case also. “If it took place in open Council, it should stay in the public record,” said McAbee.

Faced with an obvious defeat, Wilson attempted a maneuver popularized by Chairman Larry Greer this year; the gambit of voting for the prevailing side in order to be eligible to revisit the issue at a later time.

Wilson was clearly anticipating changes in the Council following the holidays. Councilmen Dees and Tolly, frequent adversaries of Wilson’s, both served at their last meeting last Tuesday.

Wilson, however, tipped her hand by asking for assurances from county attorney Tom Martin that such was indeed the case, and then putting it on the record that she would be bringing the decision up for reconsideration at the next meeting.

Immediately after voting 6-1 to expunge the material, with McAbee honoring his promise to oppose, Greer reintroduced the question, and it was defeated by a 5-2 vote upon reconsideration, leaving Wilson with no further recourse.

Councilmen Dees and Tolly were each honored with a resolution of gratitude for their service to the county. (See related story elsewhere in this issue.)

Council then heard a request from Rosewood Partners, LLC for the County’s help in developing a proposed multi-use retail, storage and office faciltiy. The company asked for inclusion into a multi-county industrial park, as well as the County’s financing of approximately $8.5 million worth of infrastructure.

Wilson expressed her long held view that commercial enterprises should not receive the incentives designated for industrial enterprises. She raised the same issue earlier, when the Hilton Gardens sought similar concessions from the County.

Chairman Greer, who agreed with Wilson’s concerns at that time, expressed no such reservations last week, though he did vote against the incentives.

Wilson asked for more details on who the partners were, saying that Council was considering providing millions in public assistance to people they didn’t even know. Ned Pettigrew identified himself as a partner, but said that it would be premature to name any others. Pressed by Wilson, he added, “I don’t care to make any further comment at this time.”

Wilson expressed the irony of an ordinance before the Council that would require anyone speaking before the Council on behalf of others to reveal who they were representing.

“Here we are getting ready to demand that citizens of this county identify their purpose, while this company asks for millions of our citizens’ dollars, but aren’t required to reveal who they are. Does anyone see the sense of that?”

The project, apparently to be located on Highway 76 near I-85, will involve a $50 million investment and create one thousand jobs at build out. When build out is projected was also not made known.

Despite her reservations, Wilson voted for the request, with Greer opposed and Floyd abstaining.

On the issue of abolishing the County’s blue laws, Wilson again invoked the Greer gambit of voting for a prevailing position in order to bring it back up later. Greer expressed his intent to oppose the ordinance, and cast the lone dissenting vote.

During public comments on agenda matters at the beginning of the meeting, some residents of District Five, whose Councilman Michael Thompson introduced the ordinance, vowed to work for his defeat at the next elections, due to his sponsorship.

Two resolutions providing for incentives for the Bosch Corporation, which is planning an expansion, were passed 6-0-1, with Greer abstaining due to his son’s employment there.

On third reading of the ordinance requiring citizens addressing Council to identify their purpose, Greer proposed an amendment which would also state that any presentation placed on the agenda would be required to identify the subject. If the presentation strays off the subject, according to the amendment, the presenter can be ruled out of order by the Chairman.

Following approval of the amendment by a vote of 7-0, with Wilson sticking to the maneuver to keep questions available for reconsideration by the new Council, McAbee immediately called for the question on the ordinance itself, as amended.

Since a call for the question is not debatable, Wilson sought a point of personal privilege to continue her discussion. Greer denied her request and the ordinance passed 7-0.

The County Administrator, responding to questions raised recently about operations at the Anderson Regional Landfill and the accounting for host fees paid to the county, had both Jack McIntosh,  attorney for the county at the time of the Big Creek landfill sale, and representatives from Allied Waste, Inc., on hand to address those issues.

McIntosh began by reviewing briefly the decision to sell Big Creek. He said that all three counties had the same problem: DHEC had ordered them to close their landfills, but had granted extensions to operate until other arrangements were made.

“To evaluate whether it was a good transaction or not, look at what we had to sell. There were two hundred acres there with a small footprint permitted for use. We didn’t even know it had a market value.”

He added that the real value of the deal was for Allied to take the waste generated in the county for twenty years at a greatly reduced rate. “There He added that the real value of the deal was for Allied to take the waste generated in the county for twenty years at a greatly reduced rate. “There was also a $3 million liability for closure of the landfill that we got out from under.”

A representative for Allied Waste/Anderson Regional Landfill was on hand. He said he understood why people were concerned about the late night garbage truck traffic at the site.

“We run a ten truck satellite hauling operation out of there. Those trucks you hear are leaving the landfill to begin their collections for the day. As far as out of state license tags on the trucks, it’s common for trucks to be moved from place to place within a corporation,” he said.

 He stated that the host fees paid to Anderson County are $1.25 per ton for in county waste and $2.50 per ton for out of county waste. “We are subjected to both internal and external auditing of those accounts. We make quarterly payments to the County.”

Vic Carpenter, environmental services division director, spoke in defense of his department and their performance.

He addressed the issue of Wilson’s allegations that $143,000 was embezzled at the animal shelter, instead of the $26,000 figure the county claims. He said that he wanted the pertinent information on the larger number, and pointed out that SLED is currently investigating that.

 He spoke about the issue of fill dirt having been sold for use at a shopping center construction site in Hartwell, GA. His defense was interrupted when the time allotted for his presentation ran out.

Recommendations were heard for the disbursement of accommodations tax funds to various activities and organizations. The Spring Water Festival and the Christmas Park were slated for $2500 each.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for January 2, 2007, at 6 p.m.

County Council Councilman Michael Thompson moved to amend  expunging several pages of verbatim text read into the record by Cindy Wilson at the last Council meeting. That material consisted of four disclosure forms Wilson had sent to County Administrator Joey Preston, concerning the disbursement of a lease buyout associated with the purchase of the old Kroger property for use as County offices. Wilson attempted a maneuver popularized by Chairman Larry Greer this year; by  voting for the prevailing side in order to be eligible to revisit the issue at a later time. Immediately after voting 6-1 to expunge the material, with McAbee honoring his promise to oppose, Greer reintroduced the question, and it was defeated by a 5-2 vote upon reconsideration, leaving Wilson with no further recourse. Councilmen Dees and Tolly were each honored with a resolution of gratitude for their service to the county. Council then heard a request from Rosewood Partners, LLC for the County’s help in developing a proposed multi-use retail, storage and office faciltiy. The company asked for inclusion into a multi-county industrial park, as well as the County’s financing of approximately $8.5 million worth of infrastructure.

Council resolution attempts to censure Wilson’s questions concerning county employee

By Stan Welch

During the last meeting of Anderson County Council, Council members went into an unannounced executive session late in the meeting, and emerged to pass a resolution censuring District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson.

The vote was as unexpected as the executive session itself, which neither appeared on the published agenda for the meeting, nor  was added during an earlier amendment to the agenda. The meeting had almost ended, with the usual housekeeping going on, such as Council members’ comments, when Councilwoman Gracie Floyd requested a five minute recess, which Chairman Greer granted. It was after that recess that Floyd demanded the executive session.

According to Wilson and other Council members, the impetus for the resolution to censure was her efforts to gather information about a certain county employee.

The employee in question has been the topic of considerable interest and speculation in recent months, since reportedly being present with County Administrator Joey Preston at a local lake, in what some witnesses have described as a compromising situation. Law enforcement records at the time of the incident indicated that one of the cars present was registered to a William T. Nichols, of 152 Hammond School Road.

The incident led to the appearance of former Chief Deputy Tim Busha and Sheriff Crenshaw before County Council to explain that Preston and the woman’s presence was part of an undercover sting operation related to an investigation of stalking and harassment of Preston.

On December 6, the woman in question, Kelly Nichols, filed a complaint against Jena Trammell, a former professor at Anderson University, claiming that she was being harassed.  The address Nichols gave on the complaint was 152 Hammond School Road. She also stated that her husband William had also been harassed.

The time frame referred to in the incident report ran from November 2005 till February 2006, or approximately ten months before the report was filed. That report would tend to support Preston’s claims of harassment.

ACSO officials have said in published reports that Solicitor Chrissy Adams asked that Nichols make the report. Adams clarified that in a recent telephone call.

“Ms. Nichols had made a complaint to law enforcement about that. That was eventually forwarded to SLED, which is handling the investigation. SLED then conferred with me, and I spoke with Ms. Nichols and advised her of her options under the law. Did I tell her specifically to file a complaint? No, I did not. I simply explained her options to her, and she chose to exercise that one.”

On December 12,Wilson sent a memo to Preston asking for information concerning Nichols’ educational history, work history, the various positions held by her while working for the county, and her salary while at the various jobs.

In the memo, Wilson raised questions concerning Nichols’ alleged relationship with County Administrator Joey Preston, her reported previous employment as a stripper, and her driving of a county vehicle.

 County personnel lawyer Nancy Bloodgood quickly responded to Wilson’s memo, with a letter dated December 14, which informed Wilson that she was not entitled to the information she had requested.

Bloodgood referred to the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, and what it allows to be revealed about employees. Wilson says her request was not under the FOIA, but a confidential memo asking for the information.

“I wasn’t asking for her personal information. I was asking about her training and qualifications and salary. I think that’s within my role as an elected official,” said Wilson recently.

Bloodgood went on to inform Wilson that Nichols is a Caucasian female, who has worked for the County full time since March 3, 2003. She is currently employed as a storm water construction site inspector, whose salary is in the $26,000-$30,000 range.

The letter continues, “The other statements in your letter about this employee are insulting and defamatory. Please be advised that your continued attempts to defame County employees are not attributable to the County. If you are sued, you will be advised to seek legal advice from your personal attorney.”

Tuesday night’s vote was the Council’s effort to distance itself from Wilson, according to comments by Chairman Larry Greer.

Efforts to reach Greer, and Gracie Floyd, who presented the resolution, were unsuccessful. The text of the resolution was not made available to the media at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Wilson, who was at first reluctant to speak about the executive session, finally explained why the text was unavailable.

“While we were in the session, Mr. Greer went to great lengths to set all these ground rules, then he completely ignored them, sitting there looking very pleased with himself, while Ms. Floyd screamed and cursed at me. She called me things I won’t repeat. When I referred to Ms. Bloodgood as Ms. Bloodsucker, our county attorney began screaming at me, saying that I had defamed a member of the South Carolina bar. He also said that I deserved to be taken down. He was gleefully handwriting the resolution, which is why there was no copy available for the press.”

Councilman Dees apparently became so displeased with the conduct of the session, in one way or another, that he returned to the Council Chambers well before the others. He was scheduled to leave town on the morning after the meeting and could not be reached for comment.

Also  supporting Wilson’s description of the volatile executive session is the fact that Councilwoman Floyd actually followed her back into the Council chambers when Wilson attempted to have the Clerk to Council make a copy of the letter from Nichol’s, purportedly threatening to sue Council if they didn’t censure Wilson.

“They briefly let me see the letter, then demanded it back. Everyone had a copy but me, so I said it was evidence and I would return it after I copied it. Gracie blazed into the Council chambers, screaming at Linda (Edelmann, Council clerk) to stop and not to copy the letter. We went to the Clerk’s office on the third floor, with Gracie making it up the stairs in a couple of bounds. She actually crowded me into a corner and tore the letter out of my hands. Luckily, Bill Striewing, of the Park Police, was there to make sure Gracie didn’t get hurt.”

Wilson said, “I understand the reasons for executive sessions and secrets related to them. I respect the legitimate uses of the sessions. But I cannot believe that privilege is intended to protect the kind of threatening and intimidating behavior that I was subjected to in that room. There is no excuse for it. They don’t care about rules and laws. They just wanted to attack Cindy Wilson one more time.”

County Council honors Dee with resolution

By Stan Welch

District Six Councilman Bill Dees was given a warm sendoff  at last week’s County Council meeting.

Chairman Larry Greer, who described Dees as “a dear friend whom I will miss terribly” read a resolution honoring Dees for his service to Anderson County. Among the many achievements listed in that resolution was Dees’ four years in the United States Navy, as well as his thirty year career with the City of Greenville Police Department.

Dees also graduated from USC with honors, and was later the first South Carolina police officer to receive a teaching fellowship at the University. Dees also received a Master’s degree, and later taught at the South Carolina Justice Academy.

He attended the FBI National Academy, and organized and commanded the first SWAT team in the state. He was its commander for twelve years.

Faye Dees, his wife of forty nine years was on hand for the presentation of the resolution. The couple has two daughters and eleven grandchildren.

Dees was District Six’s first County Councilman, elected to represent the Powdersville are on the new seven member council, and served for six years before losing to Ron Wilson in the Republican primary in June of this year. He served as Council Chairman in 2003. “I wish my successor all the best in the world, because if he does well, my district does well. The people of the Wren and Powdersville areas have been wonderful to me, and I have greatly enjoyed the privilege of serving them. I think the progress in that area is evident. I am sure it will continue, as the area grows even more. We have the new library and government center underway, and that will give a center, if you will, to the Powdersville area.”

“I am deeply honored and humbled by this resolution and by the opportunity I have had to work with the people and the employees of Anderson County. I have always understood that there is a right thing to do and doing the right thing. I have dedicated myself to doing the right thing.”

District One Councilman Fred Tolly, a veteran of fourteen years on Council, also received a resolution of gratitude. Tolly, who did not seek reelection, will be succeeded by Bob Waldrep.

Arson suspected in recent fire

Williamston Police are working with SLED to determine the details of a fire that occurred on December 17 at 121 West 2ND Street. Patrolman J. Digirolamo arrived to find the Williamston Fire Department engaged in fighting a house fire at that location. The time was approximately 2:30 p.m. Chief David Baker was summoned to the scene on the advice of WFD Chief Steve Ellison, who suspected arson.

 Baker agreed and contacted SLED. “We hope to have a report of an arrest soon,” said Baker. Despite the fire department’s efforts the house was a loss. “It went up like a torch,” said Baker. “It’s clearly a case of arson.”

Dec. 12 – Patrolman James Digirolamo  observed a Ford Explorer roll through a stop sign without stopping completely. He followed the vehicle until it turned in at a convenience store and sat for a while before resuming eastward on Greenville St.  He then initiated a traffic stop and found that the driver, Carl Fromm, WM, 41, 5’11", 175 pounds, from Greenville, had a suspended license and no proof of insurance. He was arrested and transported to the WPD for booking

Dec. 13 – Sgt. Z.E. Gregory was en route to provide backup for another officer when a vehicle pulled out in front of him, forcing him to hit his brakes. He followed the vehicle past McDonald’s at which time he stopped him for doing 40 mph in a 25 mph zone. The driver, Mario Jorge Ibanez Herrera, Hispanic male, 43, of Greenville, presented a Mexican driver’s license, but had no South Carolina license. He was arrested and charged with no license, failure to yield right of way, and speeding.

Dec. 14 – Sgt. D.W. Alexander was dispatched to the corner of Tripp and Mattison Streets, where David Crimes reported that someone had stolen a white DynaGlo kerosene heater from his carport.

Dec. 15 – Sgt. D.W. Alexander and Patrolman James Digirolamo were conducting a checkpoint in an area where shots had been fired on another occasion, when a car approached . The vehicle suddenly turned into a private drive and turned around. Ptl. Digirolamo pursued and the chase continued up Hwy. 20 at speeds of up to 125 miles an hour. The officers were about to call off the chase in the interest of safety when the suspect entered a right turn and flipped the car twice, ending up under the edge of a mobile home at the scene.

 The driver, Ned Toyce McCarthy, WM, 22, 5’11, 180 pounds, crawled out of the car despite the officer’s instructions to the contrary and tried to flee on foot. He was eventually subdued and placed under arrest.

Dec. 15 – Ptl. M.W. Ritter and Reserve Officer J.R. Scott observed a vehicle with an expired license plate. They stopped the car and discovered that the driver, Ronald Edward Nixon II had no South Carolina license, no insurance and no tag. He was taken into custody.

Dec.15 – Patrolman Anthony Digirolamo, Jr. observed a vehicle with no license plate being driven on Greenville Dr. The vehicle was being transported to Mustang’s for detailing. The driver, Anthony Pevarnick, WM, 30, 5’8", 175 pounds, from Iva, was arrested for driving under suspension.

Dec. 16 – Patrolman Anthony Digirolamo, Jr. responded to 110 Gossett Dr., Apr. G-4, where Jamie Dotson reported that someone had entered her vehicle and stolen several items out of the trunk, including auto cleaning supplies valued at approximately $40.

Dec. 17 – Patrolman Anthony Digirolamo, Jr. received a report from Kristen Langston at 218 Williamston Court, that someone had broken into her car and stolen a CD player, the speakers, two subwoofers and her collection of Earnhardt cards, with a total value of $800.

Seems to Me . . . Reputations

By Stan Welch

Counties, like people, get reputations. Charleston County has the reputation for being self-important and snobbish. Richland County has the reputation for being self-important and boorish. Horry County has the reputation for being tacky, and a good place to get cut. Everybody in Horry County carries a knife, or used to. The Yankees don’t take to the habit like the locals do, but the name Horry County till conjures up the image of rednecks bars and honky tonks, and men who don’t take slights to their honor quietly.

Anderson County, however, has long had a reputation for hard nosed and, shall we say, quirky politics? Last week’s County Council meeting certainly did nothing to detract from that reputation. As you’ve surely heard by now, Council, in an unscheduled, unannounced executive session, decided to censure Councilwoman Cindy Wilson for her actions concerning a female employee of the County.

Wilson had been seeking information about this employee, whether she was the woman who was with county administrator Joey Preston, at the now infamous Cater’s Lake rendezvous last March.

She also recently filed a harassment complaint, albeit almost a year after the events, against a former Preston associate, which appears to support his claim of harassment and stalking.

On December 12, Wilson sent a memo to Preston asking for such subversive information as the date the woman was hired; her educational credentials; a list of the jobs she has held with the County; her salary for each of those positions; and her work history prior to starting work for the County.

In the world of modern government, at least under the Council/administrator form of government as practiced in Anderson County, such information is the purview of the county administrator, or in this case, the same gentleman found at Cater’s Lake with the employee in question.

Wilson raised several questions concerning the rumored relationship between Preston and the woman, as well as raising concerns about the woman’s “inappropriate attire” while visiting the job sites on the Beaverdam sewer construction project. She also asked if the woman was a stripper in Georgia before being hired. Did I mention Anderson County’s quirky politics earlier?

Wilson promptly received a letter from the County’s personnel lawyer providing some information, but declaring Wilson’s continued allegations to be libelous, and warning her of personal legal consequences.

Last Tuesday night, Council took it a step further. They voted to distance themselves from Wilson and her actions, citing concerns that the County might be liable, should the employee pursue legal action. Given Preston’s predilection for suing elected officials, and anyone else in sight, the Council’s concerns might have some validity. Their actions, however, do not. 

According to Wilson, she was given no notice whatsoever of the ambush she experienced Tuesday night. She claims that a letter from the employee was sent to each Council member except her. When asked to produce a copy of that letter, she was unable to do so, saying she was not provided with one.

Let’s not even bother discussing the issue of whether a hired employee’s request to have an elected official censured carryies more weight than the elected official’s concerns about the employee’s qualifications. Whether you like it or not, Preston has worked long and effectively to establish his control over such issues, as well as his control over the flow of information. Those efforts have been consistent over the last ten years, and in large part, can be tracked through the public record, such as it is in Anderson County.

No, let’s discuss professional courtesy, and more importantly, pay back. It is my opinion that this action was clearly orchestrated to punish Wilson. It is not the first time she has been subjected to this kind of treatment. Several years ago, Council, again in an orchestrated move, was declared an adversary of the county, because of her opposition to the first phase of the Beaverdam creek sewer project.

Wilson is a persistent, and inevitably irritating, voice on the Council. She is clearly convinced that there is mismanagement, deception and corruption at virtually every level of the county administration, including the administrator’s personal behavior. She has continued to toll that bell no matter how many times Preston offers explanations, or Council displays their indifference by their refusal to support her.

Whether you agree with her approach or not, it can be tiresome. It is clearly tiresome to various members of the Council, such as Bill Dees and Fred Tolly, who both left the Council after Tuesday night’s meeting. One was defeated in June, and the other retired.

It must be remarked however that Councilman Dees, along with Bill McAbee, voted against the executive session.  Dees later left the secret meeting to return to the Council chambers, clearly unhappy with some aspect of the proceedings. Given what went on in that session, Dees’ actions are to his credit.

For her part, Wilson began wielding an unusually heavy hand shortly after her rout of Democratic challenger Ed Jean in November. The tone of her correspondence, as well as her tone in public meetings, became more aggressive and accusatory, perhaps bolstered by the presence next year of two new members of Council.

To the Council members who voted so quickly and so glibly to censure one of their own, you did nothing to lessen Anderson County’s reputation for bizarre and vindictive politics. I hate to think how many people would have to get cut in Horry County to provide the same reinforcement to their reputation.

And to Ms. Wilson, let me say, the youngest boy in Horry County knows that you don’t show your opponent the blade. You just cut them.

Looking Back at 2006

2006 will be remembered as the year that Williamston struggled with fixing a financial nightmare, historic town properties were sold, the Middleton name was back in the news, the area lost a beloved doctor, and so much more. The most memorable stories from the front page of The Journal are recounted in this special 2006 year in review.

If you are a regular reader of The Journal you will probably remember many of these stories. If not, this is what you missed:

Dec. 2005 - Jan 4 - Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy was served with papers for not responding in a timely manner to 21 requests for information submitted to the Town.

Setting a precedent for most of the first six months of the year, a public hearing on the Town of Williamston’s 2006 budget grew loud and accusatory, as more than 75 citizens packed into the town courtroom to have their say about the proposed budget. Marion Middleton, Jr. accused Phillip Clardy of misinforming the public about the budget and about the Town’s financial situation.

An FOIA request made by The Journal concerning the County’s relationship with C&S Consulting Group, Inc., resulted in a meeting at which company owner State Rep. John L. Scott Jr. questioned why he was being singled out as the only black contractor doing business with the county.

Former Williamston Mayor Marion Middleton publicly spoke out concerning continued statements by the current mayor  blaming the town’s financial problems on the actions of previous officials.

Council postponed approving Williamston’s 2006 $2.55 million general fund budget. The budget showed an increase of $350,000 over the 2005 budget.

County Council began the year under the leadership of newly elected Chairman Larry Greer. Councilman Bill McAbee was elected vice chairman.

Jan. 11 - An ordinance to allow the County to accept title to land purchased in the Clemson Research Park by the Anderson County Development Partnership was approved in title only. The ordinance was designed to allow the County to benefit from grants associated with developing the property.

Williamston Town Council heard a report on the sewer system and heard from several residents who spoke out about their concerns with the town’s finances, some going as far as asking for the mayor to resign if things didn’t improve.

Information concerning the condition of Williamston’s finances came to light when Mayor Phillip Clardy, responding to a question by Councilman Cecil Cothran, said that the second and third quarter payroll withholding payments had not been made and that the fourth quarter payment was not yet due. He also said that the town had funds to make the payments.

Councilmembers met with consultant Bob Daniel, two at a time, to hear how bad the town’s financial situation was.

The Journal reported that through November (2005), the town owed $250,762 in Federal withholding and approximately $50,000 in South Carolina withholding. Late penalties on the items add up to as much as $60,000. The town also owed State retirement payments amounting to approximately $100,000 and the State’s portion of police fines amounting to $56,000. Estimated December payments due for state and federal withholding, retirement, police fines and penalties amounted to another $89,000.

Councilman Greg Cole said that based on the information he was given each month by the town’s treasurer, it appeared tax payments were being made.

The Williamston Senior Solutions center celebrated their one year anniversary.

Anderson School District One Board of Trustees extended the contract of Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler for one year.

Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston defended his decision to have Rep. John Scott present at a meeting without notifying the reporter by saying that “Given the nature of some of the past articles written by the (sic) Mr. Welch, which in my opinion failed to include key facts, I wanted to make sure all bases were covered.”

House Dist. 10 Rep. Dan Cooper addressed members of the state’s media with a budget overview presentation. Cooper, as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, headed the committee responsible for funding the states budget proposals.

Jan. 18 - Palmetto Elementary and Palmetto High School were named  finalists for the Carolina First Palmetto’s Finest Awards.

Crystal Stewart was named Miss Palmetto 2006.

Members of the Greater Williamston Business Association (GWBA) approved a resolution urging the mayor of Williamston to take specific steps to “initiate community healing.”

Marion Middleton, Sr. met with members of the media to express his concerns with the town’s financial situation and, he said, to hopefully get his name out of the public spotlight. In an interview held at the Lander Memorial Library, Middleton said he transfered $76,000 into a corporation to avoid interfering with his state retirement. “It was wrong and when I was told that, I quit,” he said.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said that he and the town are taking steps necessary to bring the financial crisis facing the town under control. According to Clardy, that included cutting services, increasing revenues and doing what is necessary to bring the town to financial stability.

The financial woes facing Williamston are substantial, but can be fixed, said Joe Newton, director of operations at the Appalachian Council of Governments (ACOG) who began consulting the town on the financial crisis.

County Planning Director Jeff Ricketson presented a report the greatest population growth continued within an area stretching five miles on either side of the I-85 corridor with 20,000 residents estimated to have moved in.

Documents obtained by The Journal from the SCDOT failed to provide evidence of any specific or technical mass transit experience or expertise on the part of Anderson County’s consultant on such matters.

Jan. 25 - Wayne Rogers was recognized for his dedication to missions service in Kentucky being named a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honor which can be given by the Governor of Kentucky.

Williamston Town Council took the first big step toward repairing the finances of the town, publicly meeting with ACOG representative Joe Newton in a roundtable session.

Plans by County Administrator Joey Preston to defray expenses incurred by recent land purchases by using monies generated from the sale of the old Tri-County Regional Landfill apparently hit a snag when three members of a family issued a letter to the three Counties involved, informing them that there is no entry way to the property except their private drive.

Officials from Pelzer and West Pelzer met with a member of ACOG to hear about small town government.

Palmetto Elementary Principal Jerome Hudson was named 2006 S.C. National Distinguished Elementary Principal of the Year.

Lindsey Chambers was named Miss Woodmont and grand talent winner.

Feb. 1 - Information released about Williamston’s finances showed total liabilities for the town amounted to $1,613,000. Most of it, $1,138,753, was delinquent. Tax money and other revenues the town is supposed to operate on for 2006 had already been spent.

Approximately 250 people attended a community meeting in which the financial condition of the Town of Williamston was presented and  residents vented their concerns. Many asked for the mayor to resign, citing a lack of confidence in his ability to run the town.

Three projects received ISTEA grant funding from SCDOT including the gym renovation project in Pelzer, sidewalk project in the Wren school area and a downtown project in Williamston.

Tensions and resentment over the Town of Williamston’s finances made for a heated town forum as speaker after speaker called for Mayor Phillip Clardy to resign.

Feb. 8 - Area shoppers learned they will have the choice of two new grocery stores located in Moonville or Piercetown later in the year as Food Lion LLC announced plans to open nine stores in the Upstate.

Williamston residents and businesses began feeling the impact of the town's financial situation as the town announced it will discontinue all non-essential services and begin making cuts immediately.  In addition to cutting their own salaries in half, resolutions passed by Council included a one third reduction in staff, eliminating commercial trash pickup, eliminating recycling pickup, cutting all unnecessary spending, implementing a $14 per household sanitation fee, increasing water/sewer rates, and increasing business licenses.

Concerns were raised about the Town’s ability to pay for a $225,000 sidewalk project. Rusty Burns, who assisted the Town in obtaining the grant, reported that the Town received three reimbursement installments from the state and immediately passed them on to the contractor, Wham Brothers, Inc.

Cecil Cothran, Ward 2 Councilman resigned citing health reasons. 

CSX Transportation announced plans to abandon the 12.74 mile rail line from Williamston to Belton. The process would not affect the company’s legal commitment to repair the bridge at Gray Drive, said State Sen. Billy O’Dell.

Williamston Council approved a 30 percent increase in the business license fees, a 20 percent increase in the water and sewer fees, a 1 percent increase in the Duke Power franchise fee, and a $14 household garbage fee for residents.

The Town discontinued pick up of commercial trash dumpsters forcing businesses to find a private hauler.

Anderson County Council heard from its auditing firm that the County’s financial operations were in good shape.

Feb. 15 - The Journal increased the newstand price to 75 cents.

At a Thursday morning budget workshop Williamston Council formalized several measures approved at a previous budget workshop then reviewed, revised and rescinded several of those measures.  On at least one occasion they ended up back where they originally started.

An Anderson man, John Waters, was killed after falling from his truck while attempting to unload a freezer at the Whitefield Convenience Center.

The South Greenville Fire Department replaced a 1975 Ford pumper, which was the first and only pumper the station had, with a new American LaFrance model.

Pelzer Town Council discontinued a contract with the Town of West Pelzer to provide police service, deciding that the $18,000 a year was too much for the service they were receiving. Council also approved an expenditure of up to $40,000 in matching funds, in order to obtain a $200,000 DOT grant to rehabilitate the Pelzer gym.

Marion Middleton, Jr. officially announced he will seek the Council seat left open by the resignation of Cecil Cothran. Tim E. Williams announced he is also running for the Ward 2  council seat in Williamston.

Alzheimers patients at the Riverside Nursing Center in Piedmont participated in a unique art program called Art Without Boundaries that combined art, singing and praise.

Representatives of Pelzer, West Pelzer, Williamston, Belton, Honea Path and Ware Shoals met in Ware Shoals to discuss options for addressing wastewater challenges.

Feb. 22 - Information provided to Williamston Council by accountant Bob Daniel showed the town had a 2005 deficit of $581,874 and a $47,961 deficit for the water and sewer fund, for a total deficit of $629,835.

Feb. 15 - Williamston Town Council again put off hiring an auditor and took steps toward selling town properties to satisfy delinquent IRS payments.

West Pelzer Town Council members said they were surprised and disappointed to hear that Pelzer planned to drop their contract for police service.

Earl Richard Thivener was sentenced on three charges associated with the armed robbery of Debra’s Designs in Williamston on January 24, 2005.

Anderson School District One Board of Trustees named Jody LeCroy as the new football coach and athletic director for Palmetto High School.

The Piedmont Area Hunting and Fishing Expo was held at the Piedmont Community Building.

Piedmont Public Service District Commissioners agreed to rebid the lawn maintenance contract and to take bids on opening, closing and maintaining the ball field and restrooms.

Advance Auto Parts in West Pelzer, was robbed, the third armed robbery of an Advance Auto store location in as many weeks.

Open House was held for a new training center at the Walgreens Distribution Center in the Piercetown community. Walgreens will employ 200 people from the special need population as part of the 800 total for the facility.

It was announced that B. C. Moore and Sons had been purchased by Stage Stores.

A study presented by Anderson County officials stated that Cindy  Wilson’s efforts to defeat the second phase of the Beaverdam project, as well as projected revenues of certain developments if built and available for taxation, and various other circumstances, had cost the County  $7,681,318.

Mar. 1 - Williamston Town  Council continued efforts to address the town’s financial troubles deciding to sell all non-essential town property, a list of 42 properties.

Williamston water customers saw an increase on their already high water/sewer bill with a  new $14 household garbage collection fee added.

A long running struggle between Cindy Wilson and Joey Preston escalated when Wilson showed up at the County Finance Director’s office unexpectedly, asking to see a number of vendor files. Wilson was accompanied by members of the media, including a reporter from The Journal.

Elizabeth Caroline Ridgeway was chosen Miss Powdersville and Farrah Danielle Norris was chosen Miss Piedmont at The Miss Piedmont/Miss Powdersville Scholarship Pageant held in the Rowell Room of the Piedmont Community Building.

During the Anderson County Council spring retreat, an engineer for B.P. Barber, reported that the next phase of the Beaverdam sewer line would begin construction in the next few weeks. Longshore also spoke about a secondary project to install sewer in the Webb Road area.

Local officials stepped in after CSX Transportation announced its intentions to close the line due to lack of profitability. State Sen. Billy O’Dell, made it clear that he would oppose the closure.

Mar. 8 - Williamston Town Council met with ACOG representative Joe Newton, and department heads to finish working through the eighth draft of a budget. It was the  Mayor and Council’s first unpaid meeting, since they agreed to surrender their salaries and benefits to help the town get back on its feet.

The Williamston Police Department investigated vandalism to businesses, churches and local signs with damages amounting to approximately $30,000, according to Williamston Police Chief David Baker.

The Piedmont Emergency Relief Center became a host site for Angel Food Ministries.

Christopher Guy Bolding, a 2004 Wren High School Graduate and a Sophomore at The Citadel performed as a member of the Citadel Cadet Chorale at Calvary Baptist Church.

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson challenged the inclusion of a report presented at the Feb. 21 Council meeting which purported to represent the economic impacts of Wilson’s challenges to the first phase construction of the Beaverdam sewer project.

Grading began for soccer fields in downtown Williamston.  Hammonds & Son grading and erosion control donated equipment and manpower.

Mar. 15 - The House Ways and Means Committee, Chaired by Representative Dan Cooper, successfully passed the budget out of full committee.

The proposed sale of town owned properties to satisfy delinquent taxes due to the IRS caused concerns for some town residents and the need for a closer look by town officials.

West Pelzer Town Council continued to search for a workable solution to its wastewater problems.

A group of longtime Williamston residents found their rented mobile home lots were slated for auction as part of the Town’s efforts to raise money to pay its tax bills.

Mar. 22 -  County and local officials began looking at projects which could be funded from the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB), assuming that a $.01 county sales tax referendum is approved later in the year. Three projects from the Williamston area were presented: the Ida Tucker Parkway,  replacing the bridge on Main Street with a four lane structure, and College Drive extension.

Ronnie Townsend announced that he would not seek reelection to the House of Representatives District 7 seat. Townsend served as Chairman of the Anderson County Legislative Delegation since 1988 and Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee since 1994.

Williamston Town Council held a public meeting to allow citizens to comment on the town’s property sale. Town officials were reconsidering several pieces of property that were on the list to be sold due to citizens concerns and possible deed restrictions. Being reconsidered were the Lander property, the old Gossett School property and the old town hall property on Main St.

 West Pelzer Town Council held a special meeting to amend the budget to reflect the loss of revenues resulting from Pelzer’s decision to discontinue the police protection agreement.

A hoped for end to a protracted legal struggle between an Anderson County Council member and the County Administrator was not forthcoming as Judge Macaulay declined to issue a ruling sought by both sides.

In an effort to attract more homeowners to seek annexation into the town limits, Pelzer Town Council gave first reading approval to an ordinance to abolish the town’s sanitation fees, and the sewer surcharge fee, for all the residents living in the town limits.

Local community leaders were working with Strong Communities, a public service outreach of Clemson University, to create family activity centers in the Pelzer, Williamston and West Pelzer area.

With the help of motorcyclists, the Town of Pelzer planned to sponsor a fundraiser to benefit Pelzer’s children. Proceeds from the event will go toward remodeling, relocating, and rebuilding the Pelzer Sk8 Park.

With community support, West Pelzer Fire Department raised approximately $12,146 to roof the fire department building.

At the request of Chairman Larry Greer,Anderson County Council were treated to a stunning presentation by county law enforcement officials;  in part, to explain reports of misbehavior by County Administrator Joey Preston. ACSO Chief Tim Busha reported that Preston had complained that he was receiving unsigned letters which Busha described as “vulgar and salacious.”

Mar. 29 - The Boys Home of the South celebrated the grand opening of a new CARE facility and the completion of a three-phase $1.9 million capital campaign. The new building will allow for additional housing, education, assessments and medical needs for an additional ten boys. It was the first capital campaign in more than 30 years.

Ed R. Jean declared his candidacy as a Democrat for the District Seven County Council seat. Julia Barnes announced that she was running as a Republican candidate for the seat.

Dan Harvell announced his candidacy for the House of Representatives District 7 seat being vacated by Ronnie Townsend.

During a work session Williamston Town Council decided to remove 10 lots that were on the original list to be sold at auction Mar. 30. Coming off the list were six properties that had renters on them, two properties on Dacus St., one at Minor and College and the Lander property at Main. St. and Gossett. Remaining on the list were the Gossett St. School building and the old city hall.

Anderson District One School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler told  Board members that he expected to present a draft budget for the new school year by April 25, which he said depending on State funding, will include $77 more per student than last year. He said the district is projected to receive approximately $1,469,993 more than last year. Approximately $500,000 will go to minimum salary increases for district employees.

The State Budget and Control Board has, as part of the payment plan worked out with the town of Williamston, agreed to forgo all interest payments on the delinquent amount, which came to $116,869 when the agreement was reached. That waiver of interest is dependent on the Town meeting its future obligations.

The Greenville Drive baseball team chose the design of Angela Hembree, a fifth grader at Wren Elementary School, a friendly frog name Reedy Rip’It, as their new mascot.

Apr. 5 - The Williamston property auction sale brought in a total of $498,964. Taking out a 2 percent fee paid to the auctioneer/realtor and $7,500 in advertising fees, the town expected to net approximately $474,000 which will be applied toward the town’s delinquent IRS and State withholdings, SC retirement and other delinquent debts. Mayor Phillip Clardy said “We would like to have gotten more. It was comparable to what we expected.”

The old city hall property, 1.32 acres located in the center of town, turned out to be the most valuable of the town’s property, selling for $225,000. Jim Simpson, owner and developer of the Town Square Shopping Center, which is located behind the property, was the high bidder.

Town Council unanimously approved paying the IRS, a BAN note payment and police fines due to the state with proceeds from the sale.

Nine Anderson School District One schools received statewide recognition from the Education Oversight Committee (EOC) for their efforts in identifying and closing the achievement gap among students of differing economic, racial and ethnic groups.

Months after being ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, Grand Isle Louisiana, which was unofficially adopted by Williamston, is on the way to recovery.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said he welcomed a SLED investigation into allegations made in public meetings during recent weeks.

District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson questioned numbers provided by County Administrator Joey Preston, while Council members Michael Thompson and Chairman Larry Greer apparently questioned her motives.

Apr. 12 - Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies and City Police officers responded to a bomb threat at T.L. Hanna High School after a teacher found writing on a  stall in  the women’s restroom. No devices or explosives were found.

Local officials attended a luncheon at the Reedy River Baptist Church in Mauldin at which Clemson University celebrated two outreach programs, Strong Families and Strong Communities programs, and the efforts of local volunteers and organizations that have partnered with the program.

Anderson School District One Family Services program was among those recognized for partnering with Strong Communities to offer better services to families in the District.

 After dodging a bullet from DHEC that could have resulted in fines, West Pelzer Town Council decided to forgive the water bill accumulated during the life of a questionable water line. A special meeting was held to address the issue.

Jim Simpson said he had no deal in the works involving the old city hall property when he discussed it with Council in executive session prior to the auction. Simpson said his intention in bidding on the property was to enhance the value of the shopping center and to attract a major tenant in the center. The center had been without a primary tenant since Winn-Dixie closed last year.

The Williamston branch office of Suntrust Bank on Hamilton St. was robbed. Williamston Police officers and the FBI were searching for a suspect.

Pelzer Town Council voted  to explore the possibility of annexing approximately 560 homes after more than 30 residents appeared at the Council meeting to express their interest in being annexed into the town.

Charges of driving under suspension and operating without insurance against Stan Welch, reporter and columnist for The Journal, were dropped. The charges were the result of a situation which occurred two years earlier resulting in the suspension of which Welch was unaware.

Williamston Town Council began a work session by approving and signing a letter to the Senior Assistant State Treasurer asking for the State’s cooperation and patience as the Town attempts to address the many bills it owes.

Goldie & Associates presented information concerning Williamston’s water and sewer systems and citing the reason for a $173,000 deficit in the water and sewer fund as the result of  changes in DHEC regulations. They recommended the implementation of an industrial fee to be charged to pay for the pretreatment phase to meet industrial wastewater EPA regulations.

Apr. 19 - Developer R. D. Garrett announced an 18,950 square foot retail and office center near I-85 on Hwy. 86 in Piedmont. The center is part of a larger subdivision/commercial development which includes 92 lots located behind the shopping center. Homes in the subdivision will start at $160,000.

Community volunteers and others concerned with helping young families  joined together at the Caroline Community Center to participate in renovating a room at the center.

The Anderson County Solid Waste Department announced that it is planning the construction of a new convenience center for the Five Forks/Slabtown area of the county.

Repair work was underway on the Boy Scout Hut in Mineral Spring Park. The Hut was in dire need of repair with a wooden floor beginning to rot, leaking roof, and termites.

Williamston Town Council approved priorities for use of proceeds from the land auction sale and in a split vote decided not to replace two police officers who were leaving the department.

Anderson County Council’s efforts to adopt a budget produced several changes, but ended in the same way as usual – with first reading approval by title only. The budget was described by Chairman Larry Greer as “a flat budget with no tax increases, unless your assessment goes up.”

Apr. 26 - The Springwater Committee was organized to oversee the 25th annual Spring Water Festival. The group was in the process of obtaining a non-profit charter from the state.

Information presented during an enforcement conference concerning a water line run to a home located just outside the town limits of West Pelzer led to a decision by DHEC officials  that the line must be replaced or abandoned. Former and present officials of the Town attended the enforcement conference in Columbia to answer questions concerning alleged violations.

The State agreed to delay an action against the Town of Williamston so long as court fine payments and records are kept current. ACOG advisor Joe Newton also stated that, “On paper, the general fund is now balanced for 2006, as long as nothing breaks.”

A freak hail storm left up to three inches of hail on the ground in the Cheddar community.  An unconfirmed tornado was also reported.

The Piedmont PSD Board of Commissioners discussed grants and held first reading on the 2007 budget which was based on income of $1,160,637 and expenses of $1,154,908, for a surplus of $5,729.

The Capital Projects Sales Tax Commission declined to send a recommendation up to the County Council in time for first reading.

May 3 - The Piedmont branch of the Anderson County Library System reopened for business. The library was closed in late March for remodeling.

Williamston Town Council approved a request by the  Springwater Committee to hold the Spring Water Festival in Mineral Spring Park.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy reported that the town paid the IRS $200,000 for delinquent withholdings due for 2005. The payment was made with funds from the recent property auction.

Accountant Bob Daniel reported that he had concluded  work on the town finances in preparation of turning it over to an auditor and recommended an auditor. He said the town’s financial statements show a $612,000 deficit and a $17,000 loss for the water and sewer department.

The SIB Commission presented County Council with a plan, assuming the receipt of a $150 million grant, in which case three major projects would be funded, with an additional $50 million to be used for local projects.

A choice of whether to move the Williamston Police Department’s dispatch function to the County’s Central Dispatch service or try to retain it occupied much of the budget work session held by Council.

A special invitation only reunion of the Piedmont High School basketball teams was held at the Piedmont Community Building.

Anderson County Council gave second reading approval to the proposed budget as presented by County Administrator Joey Preston. Preston also responded to a question by Cindy Wilson concerning an attachment to the Big Creek landfill sales contract which Wilson said defines the royalty fee paid to Claude Graham, the person who brokered the sale between the County and Allied Waste Inc. in 1997.  Preston said that the document simply doesn’t exist, and that it is mistakenly mentioned in the contract. The contract has ten years remaining.

In a deposition given on March 20, 2002, Graham acknowledged such a royalty contract based on the tonnage that is received each year by the Allied Regional Landfill, but could not recall the amount per ton which he receives.  

Baccalaureate Service for Palmetto and Wren High School seniors was held.

A letter promised to Williamston residents by Mayor Phillip Clardy in January was finally available detailing the town’s poor financial status.

Palmetto High School teacher Jeff Boozer  camped out on the roof of the school for donations for the Belton-Honea Path-Williamston Relay for Life Event at BHP.

 Williamston residents were told that IRS had been paid $200,000 with proceeds of the sale of the Gossett Street property and that the IRS agreed to abate approximately $100,000 in fines and penalties.

More than 109 volunteers supported the Family Activity Kick-Off according to organizers  of Strong Communities.  The event was centered on the “extreme makeover” of an empty room at the Caroline Community Center on Hamilton Street in Williamston into a baby-proof, family friendly room for events sponsored by Strong Communities. 

May 10 - Piedmont PSD Commissioners approved first reading on the 2006-2007 budget with total revenue of $1,160,637 and expected expenses of $1,154,908, for a surplus of $5,729.

More than 100 residents filled the Pelzer Community Building to get information and express their opinions on having their unincorporated neighborhoods annexed into the town limits. Residents of the town’s unincorporated area had expressed concern over their lack of a political voice in how they are governed by  those who live inside the town limits.

Marion Middleton Jr. handily defeated Tim Williams for the Williamston Ward Two Council seat. Middleton Jr. was a vocal critic of the Council and administration as the town acknowledged, then tried to address, financial problems.

West Pelzer sewer department head Brad West resigned after  Council delayed authorizing the purchase of a replacement pump for one of the town’s wastewater lift stations. West said that he had been unhappy at his job for some time.

Contractor John Allen Cox, 38, of Williamston, died of natural causes at his home on Hogg Rd. Cox had undertaken numerous building projects in the Williamston, Anderson and South Greenville area and was well known.

May 17 - The Grove Station Spring Fest featured blue grass and gospel music, classic cars, hotdogs, cake auctions, face painting and other activities at the old Grove Elementary School on Piedmont Hwy.

Woodmont High School was among seven Greenville County high schools listed in Newsweek’s “Best High Schools” list.

Ron Wilson, announced he ws  running for the Anderson County Council District Six seat.

The Pelzer skateboard park closed temporarily due to lack of supervision and safety concerns following the resignation of Pelzer Town Councilwoman Tonya Scott.

Incumbent District Six Councilman Bill Dees has seen a great deal of progress in his three terms on the Council, and said  he hopes to see more.

Rick Freemantle anmnounced as a candidate for the District Six County Council seat.

“We’re going to need more shelves,” said Ron Hedstrom, Piedmont Emergency Relief Center (PERC) Board President, upon seeing the 10.5 tons of food raised by the letter carriers of the Piedmont Post Office.

The PPSDapproved second reading  on the 2006-2007 budget. First reading on the budget was held April 24. Final reading will be held, with minor changes, at the next meeting.

The Piedmont branch of the Anderson County library system reopened with almost twice the space and number of books than before.

Anderson County Council District 6 representative Bill Dees presented a check for $5000 to PPSD. The funds  will go toward playground equipment and other improvements at the Tom C. Pack memorial field in Piedmont.

Unfunded mandates and the vehicle tax ratchet down were the two phrases most frequently heard at last a budget workshop held by the Anderson County Council. The final conclusion was that the county would have an additional $2.4 million for the 2007 fiscal year,

Williamston Town Council discussed sewer expenses and DHEC fines as they came nearer to completing a budget for 2006.

Newly elected councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. took the oath of office for the Ward 2 Council seat.

Anderson School District One High Schools helg graduation commencement services at the Anderson Civic Center.

Anderson County Council defeated a proposal for a $.01 sales tax to be used for infrastructure.

May 24 - Eric Matthew Copple, 27, \the man accused of killing former Miss Williamston Leslie Ann Mazzara, was expected to go to trial in Superior Court in California soon.  Mazzara, a BHP graduate, was crowned Miss Williamston in 2002.

The 25th annual Freedom Weekend Aloft promised four days of hot-air balloons, concerts, disc dog competitions, great food and more.

Williamston Town Council discussed police dispatch, council and mayor salaries and approved a resolution for dealing with commercial waste haulers which could bring additional funds to the town. Mayor Phillip Clardy said the document relates to a proposal to treat ARL rain water runoff brought to the town’s treatment facility by Allied Waste which could result in as much as $10,000 per month being paid to the town.

MedTrans One responded to Cherokee County and transported Lt. Governor Andre Bauer to Greenville Memorial Hospital following a plane crash near Blacksburg.

May 31 - Bo and Bear Rinehart, , were interviewed by The Journal prior to with their band, NeedToBreathe, opening for Collective Soul and Rob Thomas at Freedom Weekend Aloft.

A Memorial Day Ceremony was held at the American Legion Garden of Memories memorial located at Middleton Field. Guest speaker was SFC Glenn Skelton (R), U.S. Army, who served in Vietnam and was the recipient of two Purple Heart medals.

Anderson School District One Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler updated Board members with a presentation highlighting the 2006/2007 budget which showed  $46,460,640 in expenses to anticipated revenues of $46,332,643, the budget showed a deficit of $127,997. The budget included funding for 12.7 new teachers, additional pay for teachers assistants and nationally certified teachers and a 3.1 percent salary increase for all district employees.

June 7 - Pelzer Mayor Kenneth Davis and Councilman Tony Riddle accepted a $199,920 check from the  SCDOT to be used to restore the old gym.

The Williamston Fire Department announced they will sponsor their first golf tournament, the 2006 Maltese Cross Cup.

Jeffrey Dean Gragg, the suspect wanted in connection with the armed robbery of Sun Trust Bank in Williamston, was being held by the FBI in Alabama.

The Powdersville Water District  conducted a valve turning ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Dove Lane, Merritt Road and Wilderness Trail water line grant projects.  Total cost of the projects was $403,489.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy requested SLED to review the findings of accountant Bob Daniel who had been working on the town finances since the first of the year. Daniel also recommeded auditor Francis M. Branyon of Anderson.

Even with the land auction sale and considerable cutbacks in personnel and services, the town of Williamston was still facing substantial debt payments.  Proceeds from the property auction sale were expected to net $481,484. The Town was proposing to pay off $281,000 of $736,000 in debt still outstanding to state and federal agencies.

Outstanding debt facing the town before any payments amounted to  IRS $200,000; SC Retirement $116,000; SC Treasurer for Court Fines $85,000; SCDOR (payroll) $37,000;

Williamston Town Council approved paying off some debt, readied to pass a budget and accepted as information a suggestion of   resetting mayor and council salaries to bring them more in line with salaries of elected officials in other towns similar in size to Williamston.

June 7 - A check for $105,861 was presented to The Town of Williamston and The Greater Williamston Business Association. The funds will be used for Phase One of a downtown revitalization project. Senator Billy O’Dell and SCDOT Commissioner Marion P. Carnell presented the check.

Wren superstar Jason Place, who was the first player selected by the legendary Boston Red Sox, and the 27th pick in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft.

June 14 - The Town of Pelzer  removed an ordinance which provided for the removal of trash fees and the Rural Development surcharge from residential water/sewer bills from consideration until the annexation question is resolved.

Williamston’s July 4th celebration was sponsored by the GWBA and the Williamston Fire Department.

West Pelzer Town Council, at Mayor Peggy Paxton’s request, abandoned plans to discuss the 2006-2007 budget as well as water and sanitation rates citing incomplete information.

The results of an economic study of Iva, Pendleton, and Williamston, was sent to politicians, developers, potential investors and selected retailers in the hopes of economic development.

June 21 -  According to his wishes, Dr. Dwight H. Smith Sr. was buried at a private ceremony of his Life at Travis Cemetery in his home town of Saluda S.C.

Williamston Town Council held a public hearing on a $3.39 million general fund budget and a $1.8 million water/sewer fund budget that officials said will require at least a $250,000 loan to balance.

Williamston Ward 2 Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr., said he was pleased with a meeting in which he invited residents to meet with him to ask questions and express concerns.

Five months late and 24 drafts later, Williamston Town Council unanimously approved first reading on the town’s 2006 budget.

 Roger E. Shephard, of Williamston, was arrested in Canada and charged with the June 16 murder of an Easley businessman. A member of a local national guard unit, he was apprehended after allegedly shooting pawn shop owner John Bruin.

SCDOT crews were doing site preparation work for a new bridge on Brown Road. The new bridge will be two lane, but will be wider, straighter and safer, officials said.

County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson raised concerns about fund transfers between departments of approximately $1.5 million. She questioned what she called “an inexcusable delay” in reporting those transfers to Council.

Despite being under a DHEC consent order for poor management of the Williamston Wastewater Treatment Plant and while facing a mandatory updating of the system’s lagoons in order to address significant capacity issues, the Town negotiated an agreement with the ARL to allow treatment of storm water runoff from the landfill.

June 28 - Bloom  opened the doors of three new grocery stores in the Upstate including Hwy. 81 and the intersection of S. Pleasantburg Dr. and Augusta Rd. (Hwy. 25).

Williamston celebrated Independence Day with a amusement rides, live music, hot air balloon rides, a cruise-in, old time July 4th food items and a fireworks celebration. 

The Piedmont PSD Commission voted to authorize their attorney to begin legal proceedings against Greenville County to recoup lost revenues due to the failure of Metal Craft to pay its taxes.

Cindy Wilson continued to press County Administrator Joey Preston for information she said she is entitled to, despite a court ruling against her. Judge MaCaulay denied Wilson access not only to legal vendor files, but to routine financial information which an earlier ruling in the case had declared her to be entitled to.

Five young ladies represented the area competed in the 2006 Miss South Carolina and Teen pageants in Spartanburg including Miss Piedmont Farrah Norris and Miss Powdersville Elizabeth Ridgeway. Representing the area in the Miss South Carolina Teen Pageant were Miss Greenville Teen Elizabeth Boerger, and Miss Powdersville Teen Kristin Smith and Miss  Greater Carolina Teen Taylor Fitch.

According to gauges  maintained by the US Geological Survey, total rainfall for the Williamston area amounted to more than 7 inches during one 24 hour period.  The Saluda River at Pelzer was cresting near flood stage.

Marion Middleton, Jr.,  dominated a special meeting of Williamston Town Council, which was supposedly called to give final reading to the 2006 budget.

Middleton produced an agenda of  ten items including hiring an administrator, redefining various policies and procedures, reestablishing salaries for the Council and Mayor, and addressing the Council’s access to everyday information about the Town. Additionally, the agenda was amended three times to bring other issues to the floor.

This was just the first six months of a year in which Williamston officials and residents dealt with the town’s financial situation. Check back next week as we take a look at the second half of the year from July to December.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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