Anderson County Government, Business and Politics Year in Review . . . 2012

By Stan Welch

JANUARY

Officials from the Anderson County Planning Department confirmed that an O’reilly Auto Parts store would be coming to Piedmont soon.

The 2012 Anderson County Council elected its chairman and vice chairman at the first meeting of the new year. District Four representative Tom Allen was elected unanimously to the chair, while former two term chairman Tommy Dunn was elected as vice chairman. District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson’s nomination as vice chairman died for lack of a second.

Former Anderson County Sheriff David Crenshaw died at the scene of an automobile accident to which he had responded as a member of the Pendleton Fire Department.

Congressman Jeff Duncan visited Williamston., meeting with Mayor Carthel Crout, Mayor Pro Tem David Harvell and town administrator Phyllis Lollis. The meeting was designed to get to know each other better, said Congressman Duncan.

The Anderson County Planning Department confirmed that a WalMart SuperCenter is coming to the Powdersville area, near the intersection of Highways 81 North and 153. Planning director Bill West said that the plans were originally for a “mystery “ big box store. Big would be accurate, since the facility as designed will encompass 148, 384 square feet.

Construction of the AnMed Health Wren Family Medicine facility was completed and the clinic began accepting patients. The facility was built partly in response to the explosive growth in the Wren/Powdersville area. The 2010 census reflected a growth rate of 32-34% in the northern end of the county.

Groundbreaking was held for the Easley Baptist Medical Center of Powdersville. The proposed $8 million facility will offer a variety of medical services, including walk-in and urgent care seven days a week. Construction was expected to be complete by January 2013. The site is adjacent to the new WalMart SuperCenter, behind the existing CVS Pharmacy.

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Deonta Brinston arrived at 209 Middleton Place Dr., Building Q, to find Mickey Lee Mayberry standing in his driveway, bleeding from a serious laceration above and between his eyes. Mayberry’s two teenage sons had apparently assaulted him and stolen his car. Mayberry said his sons, Mickey Lane Mayberry, WM,19, and James Mayberry, WM, 17, both of Piedmont, came to his residence and attacked him with a stun gun. They then kicked and punched him repeatedly before leaving in his 2001 Volvo.

Newt Gingrich decidedly won the SC Republican Presidential Preference. Eventual nominee Mitt Romney finished second, Rick Santorum third and Ron Paul fourth.

FEBRUARY

State Representative Joshua Putnam opened a district office in the Powdersville Library and Government Building.

Anderson County officials received final approval of its proposal for redrawing the County Council districts. Those lines split the traditional White Plains district, as well as making other changes.

Final numbers by The U.S. Census Bureau indicated tremendous growth in the Council District Six area, and corresponding population decreases in the current Council District Two area. Those two facts ensured that the Council districts would be redrawn.

Powdersville fueled the growth in District Six, with a 43.1% increase in population, driving an overall District Six increase of 18.3%, which almost matches the 18.7% decline in population for District Two.

Coyotes, cougars and cops were the subjects of discussion at the first February meeting of Anderson County Council.

At District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson’s request, information concerning the control and disposal of coyotes was presented by county staffer Steve Newton. He explained that the extremely adaptable animals have expanded their habitat to include all parts of the county, including suburban areas and developments.

The economic development project code named Project Cougar was confirmed to be a proposed expansion by the Michelin company at their existing site.

The company, which currently employs more than 700 people at two facilities in Anderson County, was contemplating building two more facilities, which might employ as many as another three hundred people and involve a capital investment of more than $500 million.

MARCH

West Pelzer Police arrested Jacob Paul Allen Black, a 24 year old white male on charges of a lewd act on a minor, following an investigation conducted by the department, said Chief Mike Clardy. Black was arrested following an investigation which began with the February 24 filing of a complaint by the eleven year old girl’s mother.

Following a long meeting of County Council which included a two hour debate over a proposed emergency operations center, Sheriff’s deputies assigned to security in the council chambers had to ask one citizen to sit down after he called Councilman Tommy Dunn an “ass” during the public comments at the end of the meeting.

When approached by deputies during his remarks, Rick Freemantle chose to return to his seat, rather than be escorted from the chambers. The proposal that the county relocate its emergency operations facility to the old Duke Power Company building generated a great deal of controversy, both among the Council and the public.

A number of candidates announced their bids for office. Incumbents Sen. Kevin Bryant, Sen. Billy O’Dell, Rep. Joshua Putnam, Rep. Anne Thayer, and Rep. Mike Gambrell all announced their bids for reelection.

Following action by the South Carolina Attorney General’s office, federal agents swept down on the offices of Atlantic Bullion & Coin, a business owned by former County Councilman and Easley businessman Ron Wilson.

The offices were closed and evidence seized in a case that would lead to federal mail fraud charges in what both state and federal officials described as a “Ponzi scheme”.

Rep. Joshua Putnam said he will introduce legislation in the House that would require the Attorney General’s Office to notify the Better Business Bureau, the Labor, Licensing and Regulation Office of the state, and the appropriate local media outlets whenever an investment company is served with a cease and desist order.

The action came after revelations of problems with Atlantic Bullion and Coin, (AB&C) a business owned and operated by former Anderson County Councilman Ron Wilson.

Senator Kevin Bryant also said he will introduce virtually identical legislation at or about the same time, said Putnam.

The closing of the Powdersville offices of AB&C as the result of an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, stunned the Upstate and investors who saw their investments vanish overnight.

Anderson County continued to retain existing businesses, and attract new ones, often with a series of economic incentives.

Two incentive packages were approved by County Council. The first one was a combination of a thirty year fee in lieu of taxes agreement and inclusion in a multi-county industrial park, for the Timken Company of Honea Path. The expansion will create fifty new jobs and add an annual payroll of $1.5 million to the existing $7.8 million payroll.

The second package for a company code named Project Palmetto, will create 45 new jobs and generate an investment of approximately $4 million in the north end of the county. It will generate an annual income of approximately a million dollars and will produce $48,000 in property taxes, as well as re-occupying some existing buildings, officials said.

More than 250 people, mostly bilked investors, gathered at the Easley campus of Tri-County Technical College Monday night, to hear encouragement and a progress report on the investigation into the Atlantic Bullion and Coin Company and its owner, Ron Wilson.

Representatives from the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, SLED, and the United States Secret Service were on hand in an extraordinary public appearance.

APRIL

Former State representative Dan Cooper, of Powdersville, was honored for his efforts to attract jobs and industry to Anderson County. Cooper, who sat for six years as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee prior to his abrupt resignation from the House, was nominated by the

Anderson County Economic Development Board as Ambassador of Economic Development for the County.

The Anderson County Transportation Committee approved $50,000 for repaving a section of Spring Street that runs through the Mineral Spring Park.

A coalition of law enforcement agencies conducted a joint exercise on I-85 called Operation 420, named after the street term for marijuana, and because its end date was April 20 (4/20).

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Anderson Police Department, the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and the State Transport Police worked together on the joint effort.

The South Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments on whether a lawsuit filed by Rick Freemantle was incorrectly dismissed by Judge Cordell Maddox almost two years ago. The lawsuit, filed by the frequent candidate for the District Six County Council seat, was filed as a class action lawsuit and seeks to recover the funds paid to former county administrator Joey Preston by the lame duck 2008 Council.

Anderson County Council voted to give final approval to an incentive package for Duke Sandwich Productions, which plans to invest $5 million in the Powdersville area. The company, which makes a wide variety of sandwich spreads, dips, dressings, and dessert items, will occupy and refurbish the former Rock ten facility at 211 Pine Road. Forty five jobs are expected to be created over the next five years.

The securities case against former county councilman Ron Wilson moved forward as United States Attorney Bill Nettles filed a brief seeking the appointment of a federal receiver for Wilson’s assets.

Documents filed in the US District Court indicate that the alleged Ponzi scheme involving the sale of silver securities resulted in the swindling of 945 investors in as many as twenty five states, to the tune of approximately $90 million.

Anderson County’s success in attracting industry and jobs were recognized as the County Council passed a resolution recognizing those achievements. Burriss Nelson, director of the economic development office, accepted the resolution and the praise on behalf of all the members of the county’s team. Among them are the retention and expansion of the existing Michelin plant and First Quality paper products production facility and a list of companies, large and small, have followed, with more than a $1.5 billion in capital investment and the potential for job creation in the coming years approaching 2000.

Sheriff John Skipper and opponent Creed Hashe, faced off at a debate hosted by the White Plains Community Crime Watch.

Senator Billy O’Dell and Rep. Mike Gambrell attended the sixth Annual Fallen Soldiers Ceremony and luncheon where the families of eight soldiers killed in action this past year were honored.

Cathy Garner, mother of Senior Airman Nick Alden, of Williamston, received the Order of the Palmetto Patriot award, the highest award given by the Lieutenant Governor. Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell was on hand to make the presentations.

Chairman Tom Allen encouraged the individual members of County Council to prepare and to research any issues they have with the proposed budget.

Each year, Anderson County invests approximately $75,000 in the Appalachian Council of Governments (ACOG), an organization which seeks to leverage local resources into a variety of projects, and to fund those projects through a variety of loans and grants. This year, the return on that $75,000 was a remarkable 88:1, with more than $6.6 million being obtained for use in Anderson County. That ratio of return was the highest of the six counties served by ACOG.

Anderson County Council gave first reading approval to the proposed budget for FY 2012-2013 amid promises of amendments and changes before final approval.

The legal troubles that plagued former Anderson County administrator Joey Preston since his buyout in 2008 continued as he was named in a referral letter from the SC Attorney General’s Office to the state grand jury. The referral letter essentially indicates that the civil investigation may have uncovered evidence of potentially illegal activity and simply passes that information along.

The letter effectively moved Preston’s alleged involvement in the silver securities Ponzi scheme operated by former Councilman Ron Wilson from the civil to the criminal arena; and changed the tone of Preston’s legal entanglements in the three and a half years since he left the employ of Anderson County with a $1.2 million severance package.

A local church insured that at least three wounded warriors will enjoy the annual retreat sponsored for them at Keowee Key, in Oconee County.

members of the Guthrie Grove Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith held a spaghetti lunch fund raiser, and raised more than $1600 for the Wounded Warriors project which brings in wounded Marines from Camp LeJeune for four days of recreation and relaxation in the Keowee Key area.

Authorities in Oconee County and in Bell County Kentucky recaptured two escapees from the Anderson County Detention Center. Jason Bradley Hughes and Travis Eugene Foster used a leg brace they broke off a table to chisel out the mortar around some cement blocks in an interior wall and pushed an air conditioning unit out of an office window, allowing them to escape.

JUNE

The possibility of a countywide two cents hospitality tax dominated the discussion at a public meeting held by District Six Councilman Ken Waters in Powdersville. Waters announced that he favored putting the issue up to the voters in a non-binding referendum, and declared he would abide by his constituents’ wishes.

Anderson County Council recognized Evelyn “Eckie” Jordan for an extraordinary athletic career that included three national championships in amateur women’s basketball.

Jordan graduated from Pelzer High School in 1942, after leading the Pelzer Bears to an undefeated season and the state championship. Six years later, she moved to Winston Salem, NC where she worked for Hanes Mills. She also began playing for their team in the textile league.

Anderson County Council gave second reading approval to the 2012-2013 budget with assurances that the sewer debt load and the EMS issues will be addressed at upcoming budget meetings.

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson reiterated her concerns with the enormous debt load placed on the county by having to pay for part of the wastewater system for the city of Anderson.

CEL Chemical & Supplies, a maker of chemicals for the paperboard and packaging industries announced the establishment of its new facility in Anderson County. The $900,000 investment is expected to generate 15 new jobs over the next five years.

The company, which makes adhesives, waterproofing resins and performance additives located its manufacturing facility at 1927 Elrod Road in Piedmont.

An eleventh hour effort to postpone the South Carolina primary election failed when a federal judge refused to grant the injunction sought by Easley attorney Candy Kern Fuller. Fuller filed a lawsuit on behalf of several candidates from the Upstate, including Ann Smith, who was removed from the ballot for the District Six County Council seat, as a result of a technicality in the filing of her ethics paperwork when she filed to run.

Following more than two years of investigation, the state grand jury announced that it had found no evidence of criminal activity in the buyout of former county administrator Joey Preston’s contract, and was dropping the investigation.

The owners of two separate tracts of land on or near Highway 81 North are seeking zoning changes; reportedly one or both properties is slated for an assisted living facility.

A source told The Journal that the Veterans Administration and The National Health Center were interested in one of the sites.

Anderson County Council gave third reading approval to an ordinance restricting the naming of public facilities to those who are deceased. District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson sponsored the ordinance.

Anderson County Council continued to work on paring down the proposed 2012-2013 budget at a called meeting. Finance director Rita Davis led the Council through line after line of changes and adjustments, telling the Council that department heads had been told to go through their requests for funding two and three times.

The South Carolina Supreme Court issued its ruling on the lawsuit brought by area resident Rick Freemantle concerning the County Council’s 2008 buyout of former administrator Joey Preston.

The court’s ruling reversed Circuit Judge Cordell Maddox’s ruling that Rick Freemantle had no standing to bring the suit. The Supreme Court’s decision means that Freemantle’s suit will go forward.

July – Dec. to follow

By Stan Welch

The second half of the year saw . . .

JULY

Anderson County Republican Party Chairman Dan Harvell said that a slow but steady response to the petitions to qualify the various candidates was successful. Hundreds of candidates from both parties were stricken from the ballots when the SC Supreme Court upheld a requirement that the intent of candidacy and the candidates’ statements of economic interest be filed simultaneously was legal, even though most filed both documents ahead of the filing deadline.

Harvell said that the Anderson Republican and Democratic parties saw the issue as one of voter’s rights, and that their cooperation with each other was a key in the petition drives’ success.

Williamston joined West Pelzer in accepting their inclusion into the GPATS domain. GPATs stands for Greenville Pickens Area Transportation Study.

Anderson County Sheriff’s Office investigators made a fourth arrest in the murder of Anderson businessman Chandrakant “CJ” Patel earlier this month. Members of Patel’s family filed a missing persons report after being unable to contact him for several hours. Four days later, Kyndra Howell, 22; Zachary Gantt, 17; and Jeremiah Johnson, 29 were arrested on charges of kidnapping.

Federal officials announced that Ronnie Gene Wilson pled guilty to two charges of federal mail fraud in connection with a $90 million Ponzi scheme he operated for more than a decade.

Wilson remained free on $1 million bond. The conditions of his plea agreement required his continued cooperation with both the investigation and efforts to identify and retrieve assets, to be liquidated in order to compensate victims as fully as possible.

A listing of seized properties included more than 180 acres in several different locations, as well as lots and commercial properties have been identified. The largest single tract is 117 acres on the Enoree River near Fountain Inn. Other properties, include the site of the family residence in Easley, titled to Wilson’s wife Cassie Wilson, and the Live Oak Farms property is titled in part to Alison and Charles Schaum, Wilson’s daughter and son-in-law.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed an enforcement action against Wilson and his business, Atlantic Bullion and Coin, focusing on Wilson’s actions during the period between Aug of 2011 and February of this year. According to the complaint, Wilson or his agents sold more than $11 million in silver contracts during that time, but failed to purchase the actual silver as promised.

AUGUST

Following a summer of disappointment , confusion, and frustration for the candidates, a final slate of candidates for the coming elections were certified by the Anderson County Election Commission.

The Senate Ethics Committee fined Steven Riley Harvell for failing to comply with reporting requirements in connection with his primary run for the District Four S.C. Senate seat this June.

Officials from the SCDOT Safe Routes to School Project, along with District One School officials, and representatives from the county gathered at Wren High School to celebrate the completion of Phase II of the Safe Routes sidewalk system.

SEPTEMBER

County Council voted to set the tax levy for 2012 at 78.7 mills, excluding debt service, in compliance with state law. The Sheriff’s levy was set at 30.2 mills, also in compliance with state law. No tax increase resulted from the levy being set at that level.

A crowd of approximately sixty people gathered at the Williamston Municipal Center to honor Senator Billy O’Dell. The crowd included elected officials from the state, county , and municipal levels, as well as private citizens.

Senator O’Dell is the longest serving Senator in the history of the historic Pendleton District. O’Dell was first elected to the Senate in 1989.

County Council gave unanimous first reading approval to ordinances which authorize tax incentives to two companies either expanding or locating new facilities in the Piedmont Industrial Park established by local businessman Jimmy Wilson.

One of the companies, Sleepy Hollow, is a specialty textile manufacturer. The company currently employs fifty one people and has a capital investment of approximately $3 million in place. The expansion will produce an additional twenty full time jobs, with a $2.1 million dollar capital investment. In addition, twenty to twenty five jobs are expected to be created in a ripple effect of the expansion.

Incentives were also provided to Henry Molded Products, also located in the Piedmont Industrial Park. The company has a forty year history, and will generate an additional twenty jobs. A capital investment of at least $4.3 million and possibly as much as $5.3 million is anticipated, with an annual payroll of $400,000.

Anderson County’s legal efforts to recoup the financial package awarded to Joey Preston in 2008 continued, following a vote by County Council to spurn a settlement offer from Preston’s attorneys.

The vote came after a number of citizens spoke to Council, all of them in opposition to the settlement, and an hour long executive session with the county attorney.

Preston’s attorneys had proposed that the County pay Preston’s legal fees, in the amount of $113,000. The funds would have been provided through the state’s Insurance Reserve Fund on behalf of the County.

OCTOBER

Upstate Alliance SC issued a press release confirming that Henry Molded Products Inc., a manufacturer of sustainable molded fiber protective packaging products, planned to expand its operations in Anderson County. The more than $5 million investment is expected to generate 18 new jobs over the next five years.

Anderson County taxpayers will see a small reduction in their taxes. Chairman Tom Allen presented a report stating that the County has faced increasingly tough budget challenges since 2009, when the state first cut back on the aid to subdivisions, or the revenues returned to various governmental entities from the state revenues. In response, the percentage of the general fund budget provided by those revenues has shrunk from 20.5% to 10% in the current budget.

Congressman Jeff Duncan, of the Third District, speaking in an exclusive interview with The Journal, predicted not just the defeat of President Obama in November, but defeat by such a margin that Republican candidate Mitt Romney will have a clear mandate to change the country’s direction.

United States Senator Jim DeMint was in the Piedmont area, touring the manufacturing facility at Watson Engineering.

Five years ago, Watson Engineering, which is a main supplier for Caterpillar heavy equipment, decided to locate a plant here to be closer to five Caterpillar plants in the Southeast. Originally attracted by incentives calling for the creation of sixty jobs, Watson Engineering now employs one hundred and twenty two people in the area, as well as three hundred twenty more in their home town of Taylor Michigan.

The Anderson County Transportation Committee awarded the Town of Williamston the amount of $64,391.22, the amount needed in matching funds for a state DOT grant in the amount of $322,000.

The funds will finance the second phase of the Town’s Streetscape project, extending the existing sidewalk and landscaping project southward from McDonald’s across the bridge to Gossett Street.

At least one target of the court appointed receiver in the Ron Wilson case asked for the court to excuse it from those efforts to retrieve whatever portion of Wilson’s ill-gotten gains that can be located and recouped.

Small Farmer’s Journal is an agricultural publication, established in 1976. According to its response to a court order to show cause why the publication should not have to return monies it received from Wilson. According to the court documents, the amount SFJ received from Wilson was $600,000.

FirstQuality,a paper products manufacturer headquartered in Pennsylvania, announced that it was ahead of schedule, both in capital investment and job production.

The company announced another expansion expected to result in an additional capital investment of $250 million, on top of the original proposed investment of almost $1.5 billion.

Also mentioned as a possible future project is still another totally separate facility on the same site, which would likely increase the total capital investment on the site to two billion dollars.

There are currently 400 employees on the site, with training and hiring programs currently in place. As many as 1500 employees are projected to be hired in the next few years.

Nearly four years after the

controversial and litigious buyout of his contract, former Anderson County administrator Joey Preston was contracted with by Bamberg County to serve as their county administrator.

The Journal confirmed that Preston, d/b/a Preston Consulting LLC, will begin work on November 5, just two weeks shy of four years from the November 18, 2008 meeting, which saw him awarded a $1.2 million severance package, and which eventually sparked a state grand jury investigation.

The Anderson County Council meeting was highlighted by Councilwoman Gracie Floyd’s accusations that Councilman Eddie Moore is a racist. Floyd offered Moore’s own sworn testimony as proof.

In a deposition taken in conjunction with the County’s lawsuit against Joey Preston, Moore admitted being a member of the Ku Klux Klan when he was much younger. Moore also stated that he was sent into the white supremacist group as part of an undercover operation while he was a deputy at the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

Anderson County Council was presented a settlement offer from the Preston camp. Following an executive session. Chairman Eddite Moore informed the Council and the public that he would not be intimidated by threats and he voted to refuse the settlement offer. Gracie Floyd was the only vote in favor of accepting the settlement.

Council recognized the Palmetto High School AFJROTC unit for their achievements in winning the Distinguished Unit Award for academic year 2011-2012.The award marked the sixth year in a row that the school’s AFJROTC unit has been honored for their efforts in academics, military training, and community service.

The Council also gave final approval to ordinances authorizing certain incentives to three companies located or locating in the Piedmont area. Those companies are Henry Molded Products, Ins.; Opperman Webbing; and Wilson, Inc. of Piedmont.

Joseph Michael “Mitch” McCLellion, 25, one of the sons of the founder of the Anderson Jockey Lot, was struck and killed by a car as he attempted to assist a motorist at that location, who had run off into a ditch. Christopher Alexander Martin, 28, was charged with DUI and unlawful possession of a controlled substance in connection with the accident.

McClellion was the third member of that family to die since June when his father Richard “Dicky” McLellion, founder of the well known flea market, died after a long illness. In September, fifteen year old Jet McClellion was killed in an automobile accident after visiting his father’s grave.

It was announced that a twelve acre tract of land just north of T.L. Hanna High School will be the site of the new Anderson Veterans Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC). Specifications for the building call for a two story facility of no more than 44,238 square feet. The current VA clinic serves approximately 4500 patients each year.

The Anderson County Council and County Parks Department recognized Ben Otto Sunderman on the completion of his Eagle Scout Project, the Dr. James A. Timmerman River Access Fishing Deck in Pelzer. This new ADA Compliant deck will allow for at least four fishermen to cast safely.

County Council met in executive session to receive a settlement offer from former administrator Joey Preston regarding the county’s legal efforts to retrieve the $1.2 million severance package awarded Preston in late 2008. The settlement offer, made on the eve of the upcoming trial,which would essentially have had the County paying Preston’s legal fees, was rejected.

Following the County’s rejection of the settlement offer, testimony began in the case. The County’s attorneys called a parade of witnesses to the stand, including Council members from the 2008 Council including Bill McAbee, Larry Greer, Gracie Floyd and Michael Thompson. Former deputy administrator Michael Cunningham also appeared, as did former District Six Councilman Ron Wilson.

Wilson, who had just plead guilty in federal court to charges of mail fraud in connection with his silver securities Ponzi scheme, plead the Fifth Amendment ten times during his very brief appearance on the witness stand.

NOVEMBER

The County’s attorneys presented Joey Preston’s videotaped deposition, during which he conceded an eight year affair with subordinate female employee, Kelly Nichols. Nichols would confirm under oath later in the trial. She and Preston had differing views of the official explanation of the events at Cater’s Lake in 2006.

Preston said he was instructed to go to Cater’s Lake with Nichols as part of a sting operation to catch those who Preston claimed were stalking him during that period. Nichols said Preston gave her that story the following morning, and told her to stick to it.

She also denied writing a letter in 2007 complaining that Councilwoman Cindy Wilson was harassing her at her job. “Michael Cunningham wrote that letter and told me to sign it”, she said.

Preston’s attorneys spent two days refuting the County’s case and the trial ended. A ruling by Judge Roger Couch is still pending.

A heavy voter turnout favored the incumbents in local races Tuesday. Voter turnout was more than sixty five per cent.

Anderson County Council remained unchanged, with the challenged incumbents all winning impressive victories. Those results may have been influenced by the statewide snafu during the primary season which removed hundreds of candidates from their respective ballots.

In District Six, incumbent Ken Waters crushed challenger Ann Smith by a margin of four to one.

In other county races, incumbents were unchallenged except for write-ins. Sheriff John Skipper, Solicitor Chrissy Adams, coroner Greg Shore, auditor Jackie Hunter, treasurer Jason Phillips, and Clerk of Court Richard Shirley will all serve another term.

Senators Billy O’Dell and Kevin Bryant ran unopposed, as did State Representatives Brian White, Mike Gambrell, Anne Thayer, and Joshua Putnam. Rep, Don Bowen won reelection by defeating Ted Luckadoo.

Congressman Jeff Duncan handily defeated Democratic challenger Bryan Doyle by thirty six points.

In Anderson School District One, Mike Wilson and Moochie Merritt ran unopposed for the office of trustee, while Brenda Ellison defeated Rick Bell.

Incumbents Lib Pack and Rudy Rhodes ran unopposed for the Piedmont Public Service Commission.

The vote on a state Constitutional amendment which would require the Governor and Lt. Governor to be from the same party and run together on the same ticket reflected the state percentages very closely. The amendment was approved by a vote of 55%-45%.

Ronnie Gene Wilson was sentenced to 235 months, or approximately 19.5 years in federal prison. He was also ordered to make restitution in the amount of $57.4 million.

The sentence was the result of Wilson’s plea of guilty to two counts of mail fraud, in association with a $90 million Ponzi scheme. Wilson’s company, Atlantic Bullion & Coin, was closed by Wilson in March, just two days before federal Secret Service agents raided it.

Despite Wilson’s plea bargain, his legal troubles may not be over yet.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed an enforcement action against Wilson and his business, Atlantic Bullion and Coin. According to the complaint, Wilson or his agents sold more than $11 million in silver contracts, but failed to purchase the actual silver as promised.

Senator Billy O’Dell and Senator Kevin Bryant were named to co-chair a Senate investigative committee to look into the extraordinary breach of security that allowed a hacker to steal more than three and a half million citizens personal and financial information.

Officials of the South Carolina Department of Revenue reported that 3.6 million Social Security numbers had been hacked, as well as hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers. Governor Haley later conceded that as many as 657,000 businesses in the Palmetto State could be impacted.

Former Anderson County administrator Joey Preston’s legal troubles continued to deepen, as his role in the silver securities scam run by Ron Wilson came under broader scrutiny by state officials.

In a complaint filed by the South Carolina Securities Commission in October, allegations were made that Preston helped steer investors to Wilson’s scheme, despite not being licensed to engage in such enterprise.

The complaint further states that Preston held “silver parties” at his home where investors participated in seminars designed to encourage them to invest in Wilson’s scheme.

According to the complaint, Preston received between $1.25 million and $4 million in cash , as well as “credits” to his account with Atlantic Bullion and Coin, in the amount of $1.2 million. Those numbers dwarf the figures included in testimony during Preston’s recent case with Anderson County, in which the County is seeking repayment of the $1.2 million severance package Preston received in 2008.

In that testimony, Preston confirmed that he had invested $200,000 in Wilson’s scheme and had withdrawn $600,000 from his

AB&C account.

Also alleged in the state’s complaint were the charges that Preston, in concert with Wilson, sold securities which were not registered under the S.C. Uniform Securities Act. The complaint also alleges that Preston made false and misleading statements to investors in order to induce them to purchase the illegal securities.

The state is seeking repayment of the “ill-gotten gains” Preston obtained. He faces a fine of $10,000 per violation, and is charged with three offenses. However, there could be multiple violations under each offense, meaning that the fines could exceed $30,000.

Based on information provided by an accessory, John Michael Young was arrested and charged with two counts of felony murder in the case of two bodies found sealed in barrels and dumped in Lake Hartwell.

The sighting of a partially exposed barrel in the lake by a passerby began a series of events that led to the gruesome discovery of McGinniss’s body. ACSO divers subsequently discovered Mitchell’s body in a sealed plastic barrel in approximately 12 feet of water.

According to warrants and incident reports obtained from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Shaine David Fischer, WM, 6’, 180 pounds, was arrested on November 14 on charges of being an accessory after the fact of murder.

Due to a financial commitment by District Six County Councilman Ken Waters, a long awaited restroom facility will be completed at Hurricane Park, adjacent to Wren High School.

The project, which was started some time ago but which has lain dormant due to funding issues, will be completed in time for the reawakening spring sports programs, according to county officials.

The Anderson County Council officially recognized the Powdersville High School Marching Band. The band, in its first year of existence, won the State 1A South Carolina Band Championship in October.

District Six Councilman Ken Waters presented the resolution, adding that to achieve such a goal in the school’s first year makes it obvious that the new school plans to make its mark.

For more than twenty years, the Gray Drive bridge has been a source of contention and controversy in Williamston The bridge was first closed in 1991, and had remained closed until December 2006 when a ribbon cutting ceremony was held.

Anderson County is considering proposals offered by the Greenville & Western Railway on what to do with the Gray Drive Bridge in Williamston.

A lack of details was due to the fact that the finance committee, which first received and reviewed the proposals, tabled any action on them, until officials in Williamston are consulted.

The bridge has been a source of controversy, as some citizens would like to see it remain closed due to traffic and safety concerns, while others say that emergency vehicles have to travel a circuitous route to the areas served by the bridge.

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