Looking Back at 2013

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The following were headlines and highlights of area news covered by The Journal during 2013 . . .

JANUARY

Jan. 4 – Williamston’s new mayor, Dr. R. Mack Durham and councilmembers David Harvell and Otis Scott were sworn into their respective positions in a private ceremony at the Williamston Municipal Center. A public swearing in was held at the first meeting of Council.

On his first day in office, Durham wasted no time in implementing changes that he ran on during the election.

Tony Taylor, 49 was named by Durham as the town’s new Police Chief. Williamston Town Administrator Phyllis Lollis was suspended from her position until the new mayor and council can meet to dissuss the postion.

Jan. 9 – During their first meeting of the new year and under the leadership of a new mayor, Williamston Town Council, postponed a decision on what to do about the administrator position until a full council is elected. Mayor Mack Durham said Administrator Phyllis Lollis will remain on suspension, with pay, until a decision is made by the full council.

More than 250 people watched as Tony Taylor was also sworn in as the town’s new police chief, making history in the process. Taylor is the first black to hold the Chief of Police position of a municipality in Anderson County.

January 16 – Palmetto Area Economic Development committee members held their first meeting of 2013 to set goals, meeting schedule and to determine the best means for facilitating projects.

Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard from Jennifer Opper, a parent who expressed concerns about school security not long after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticutt.

Associate Superitendent David Havird said additional security measures were taken over the holidays including access doors, wiring for new cameras, door locks, key pads and panic buttons installed directly to 911.

West Pelzer officials expressed concerns about the town’s streetscape and approved funds for security for town hall.

Rockey Burgess announced that he is running for the Williamston Ward 2 Council seat which came open when Mack Durham was elected mayor and took office on Jan. 2.

The M42 A1 Duster anti-aircraft tank that had stood parked in front of the Williamston National Guard Armory for thirty years was relocated. The 24 ton anti-aircraft tank was possibly built in 1945 shortly after WWII and may have seen action in Korea and Vietnam, according to Master Sgt. Chad Hightower.

Jan. 23 – Members of the Pelzer Heritage Commission were in the process of gathering information about Pelzer residents who have served in the military. The information will be published in a new book as part of the continuing Pelzer Tales.

Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor bagan implementing a new vision for his department and for the town. Part of that vision is implementing a community based policing program to make the town safer and make it a “community friendly” police department.

Michelin, Inc. is considering five potential locations in Greenville County including one in the Piedmont area. The company considered an existing facility on Bessie Road and had already acquired a site on Highway 25.

Barack Hussein Obama was inaugurated President of the United States.

Jan. 30 – The Anderson Career and Technology Center (ACTC) was selected to pilot a new Project Lead The Way (PLTW) course. The ACTC was one of three schools in the Southeast chosen to pilot the new CSE course, and the only school in South Carolina.

The Anderson School District One Board of Trustees unanimously named Associate Superintendent David Havird as the new superintendent. Havird will take over the position July 1.

Powdersville firefighter Ken Barr was selected the Anderson County Firefighter of the Year for 2012 at the annual fire chiefs banquet.

Tennessee entertainer James Rogers, a featured and favorite performer at the Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge for more than 20 years, performed at the Historic Pelzer Auditorium.

FEBRUARY

Feb. 6 – Williamston Town Council elected Otis Scott mayor pro tem, approved second reading on an election ordinance, made two appointments and approved annexation of property on Anderson Drive. The property bordered by Foster Road and Hwy. 20 Connector will be the location of a new Family Dollar store.

Williamston Mayor Durham said a recent audit determined that town employees jailer/dispatchers who worked in the police deparment did not fall under guidelines for police officer compensation and were eligible for overtime compensation. Town officials were reviewing pay records over a two year period to determine who was eligible.

The Anderson Career and Technology Center, (ACTC) was undergoing a facelift. Craig Gaulden Davis was commissioned to design an addition to the front of the building to give the ACTC a more modern look and highlight the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) program. The addition, built at a cost of approximately $1.3 million, is being constructed by Matrix Construction, of Anderson.

The Williamston Police Department was asked to look into an incident after suspended Administrator Phyllis Lollis alleged some items were missing from her office. The investigation was turned over to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

Feb. 13 – McKenzie Faulkner was the new Miss Powdersville 2013.

In partnership with the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center (GHS), Baptist Easley announced it will expand services to include the Powdersville Medical Center and MD360 urgent care center.

West Pelzer Town Council decided to replace office computer equipment used by the Town’s court clerk and to purchase a laptop computer for the water and sewer department. The meeting adjourned in less than a half hour.

Rockey Burgess and Mike Looper signed up as candidates for Williamston Town Council.

State House Dist. 9 Representative Anne Thayer was in serious condition in an Anderson hospital due to complications from a medical procedure.

Feb. 21 – Williamston Mayor Mack Durham and Jack Ellenburg announced plans for a new festival in June. The Heroes, Bluegrass and Barbecue Festival will feature the Defenders Motorcycle Club and honor local police, fire and EMS personnel. Durham said the event is another in a series of festivals and events he would like to see the town host in an effort to promote the town and attract people to it.

The Greater Williamston Business Assocation (GWBA) is hoping to increase the number of area businesses that participate in the group’s efforts to promote the local business community. The GWBA currently has 35 members and a membership drive is underway through March.

A delegation of government and law enforcement officials from Williamston were disappointed when efforts to transfer police dispatch responsibilities to the County 911 system were shunted to the County Council’s finance committee.

Powdersville magistrate Mike Smith, who was convicted on a DUI charge in 2012, was cleared following an appeal in which Judge Buddy Nicholson dismissed the case against Smith due to improper procedures by law enforcement.

Debra Davis died at the Joseph M. Stills Burn Center in Augusta. Davis was being treated for burns on 30 percent of her body which she received when her son set her on fire on Jan. 1. Her son, Stanley Shawn Davis, 38, was previously charged with attempted murder but the charges were to be upgraded, officials said.

Feb. 28 – Oppermann Webbing, Inc. celebrated the completion of the company’s new 38,000 square foot facility expansion at 129 Hollow Drive in Piedmont.

School District One officials have been intensely involved in evaluating and improving safety and security of the District’s 14 schools since the shooting incident that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in December.

District One Board members were updated on safety measures the district has already undertaken and presented information on future plans including implementing a Violent Intruder Response plan and providing proactive training.

More than forty people filled the Williamston Town Council chambers for a town hall meeting with District Seven County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson. Condition of roads, Gray Drive Bridge, Williamston Dispatch and a lengthy and spirited discussion of the proposed county wide hospitality tax followed.

A meeting on school safety, hosted by District 8 Rep. Don Bowen focused on the various means of providing additional security in the county’s schools. Finding funding remained an issue. The method most widely favored by the forty or so people

who attended a meeting at the offices of the County Legislative Delegation was trained, professional, armed security personnel.

Mar. 6 – Chuck Cortez, manager of Big Creek Water District and Hammond Water District was named “Manager of the Year” by the South Carolina Rural Water Association.

A fire at Callahan’s Family Restaurant in Piedmont was mainly contained to the attic, however the restaurant suffered considerable damage. Four area fire departments responded to the blaze at the popular restaurant.

Officials with The Town of Williamston requested to have the jail and dispatch operations turned over to the Anderson County 911 system. According to Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor and Mayor Mack Durham, the move will save the town money while providing a higher leverlof service to residents of the town.

Williamston Town Council approved requests from organizers of two events to use Mineral Spring Park as their location. The events, while separate, were to be held on the same weekend. The Greater Williamston Business Association planned a “Party in the Park” on Friday, May 31 while a new event called “ParkFest” was to be held the following day.

Boy Scout J. T. Gentry asked the town to provide funding for a bench, marker and plaque as part of an Eagle Scout project at the new gazebo which will also honor Kenneth Bearden.

Rep. Anne Thayer was released from the hospital.

Buzzards were drawing the attention of Williamston residents for about two weeks. The buzzards were seen daily on the town’s water tower on Hamilton St. and in surrounding trees and at times can be seen forming a vortex over the area in what has been described by witnesses as “hundreds”. A house on Greenville Drive was checked by police officers who did not find anything out of the ordinary or evidence of what could be attracting the buzzards.

Mar. 13 – Ye Olde Timer Textile Athletes held a reunion at the Piedmont Community Building. The Southern Textile Basketball Tournament Association (STBT) and the Greenville Textile Heritage Society (GTHS) were co-sponsors of the event. It was the third year the event was held in Piedmont.

The Palmetto Area Economic Development Committee held a workshop which featured a presentation by Beppie LeGrand, Director of the Main Street SC Program. The Downtown Revitalization Program to help small towns and municipalities organize structure in small communities to help them turn around their towns. LeGrand said a preliminary evaulation of the Williamston, Pelzer and West Pelzer area showed there is “A lot of opportunity and potential in these communities.”

A sidewalk project that was the subject of an ADA complaint by a Williamston resident was been replaced. The sidewalk on East Main St. was fixed after town officials were able to get a good price while a contractor was doing other work for the town.

Pelzer Town Council heard an update on the REWA sewer project, a proposed park project, the Main St. SC Program. and approved first reading on a new hospitality tax.

The West Pelzer sewer treatment plant is out of operation and will be closed out and lagoons drained by mid May.

Anderson County Council passed a resolution which rejected the Greenville & Western Railroad’s suggested alternatives to court ordered repairs for the Gray Drive bridge.

Mar. 21 – Williamston Mayor Mack Durham appeared before the West Pelzer Town Council to explain the benefits of involvement in the Main Street SC revitalization program.

Mar. 28 – The Greater Williamston Business Association (GWBA) Easter Egg Hunt was postponed due to weather.

In Greenville County eight high schools, 15 middle schools, 37 elementary schools, and three career centers earned state recognition for academic performance and/or closing achievement gaps. Receiving either Gold or Silver for General Performance were Woodmont High, Silver; Ralph Chandler Middle, Gold; Woodmont Middle, Silver; Ellen Woodside Elementary, Silver.

Anderson One schools received 10 Gold awards for general performance and one silver award for general performance from the SC Department of Education. Two schools earned Gold for general performance and closing the achievement gap. Three other schools earned gold for general performance and silver for closing the gap. Two schools are ineligible for awards.

Williamston voters go back to the polls on Apr. 2 to choose who will represent the town on the Council Ward Two seat. Rockey Burgess and former councilman Mike Looper will face off for the council seat. Looper is running for that seat, after having lost his own seat during the recent election. There was some confusion as to whether he was eligible to run for the seat.

Apr. 3 – The Palmetto Area Economic Development Committee announced the Palmetto Market to be located in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park during monthly events.

A first grade student at Cedar Grove Elementary School was reportedly lifted off the ground by what was described by witnesses as a “mini funnel wind.”

In the special election decided by just 16 votes Rockey Burgess defeated Mike Looper to win the Williamston Ward Two seat.

Williamston Town Council again postponed making a decision on funding for two events and two other big decision items until the full council could be present.

The Town of Williamston held a public hearing on the annexation of property at 1503 Anderson Dr. The property is in the process of being developed for a new Family Dollar store location.

The GWBA requested funding for the Party in the Park event. Park Fest organizers requesting funding for their event. Decisions on both requests were tabled along with a vote on moving dispatch services to Anderson County, a vote on a ClearWater proposal and a vote on a uniform contract.

Councilman Otis Scott requested the agenda items be tabled until a full council could be present.

An ordinance to restrict tobacco use on playgrounds and recreational areas was expanded to include a more comprehensive restriction on smoking.

Williamston lawyer, Philip Earle Williams was suspended from practicing law by an order of the South Carolina Supreme Court. Williams was placed on interim suspension, and another attorney, Stephen G. Potts, has been assigned to handle Williams’ current cases.

Apr. 10 – Williamston Mayor Mack Durham unveiled a Crime Watch Initiative program involving the joint efforts of the Williamston Police Department and the community. The program is designed to enhance neighborhood security, heighten the community’s power of observation and to encourage mutual assistance and concern among neighbors, Police Chief Tony Taylor said.

The State Ethics Commisssion determined that there is probable cause to support allegations in a complaint against Williamston Town Administrator Phyllis Lollis.

Apr. 17 – Anderson County Council Vice-Chair Cindy Wilson and the Town of Williamston hosted a wild hog control seminar.

A special called meeting of Williamston Town Council was held to resolve the matter of what to do about the town’s administrator position and on several other “big decision” issues. The position of Administrator for the Town of Williamston was eliminated with a 5-0 unanimous vote.

The town’s former administrator Phyllis Lollis was issued a severance check for 60 days pay. The final payment, which the mayor said amounted to about $11,400, included three weeks of accumulated vacation time.

The Anderson County Library System hosted a program featuring Islamic artwork, music, and food as well as a discussion of the book The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

The Wildcat Theatre Guild presented their production of Peter Pan under the direction of Will Ragland. It featured more than 100 actors from local elementary, middle schools and Woodmont High.

House District 9 Representative Anne Thayer returned to her seat in the General Assembly.

The Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners was postponed so members could conduct a budget workshop.The amount of revenue they will receive in the form of aid to local subdivisions was one issue.

The Williamston Municipal Center was filled with the sound of music and metal taps in the hallways as hundreds of cloggers and spectators from all over South Carolina and North Carolina were in town for the 2013 Southern Junction Clogging Championships.

Apr. 24 – The Palmetto Economic Development Group

and the Towns of Williamston, Pelzer and West Pelzer hosted a meeting at Palmetto High School to learn about the Main Street SC program which the three towns are considering.

Williamston Town Council held a three hour budget worksession on a Saturday morning. Mayor Mack Durham presented information that included laying out a new budget structure for the town’s four funds as well as a review of the town’s finances under the two previous administrations. It also included information on recent changes and restructuring under the new administration and the effects on the upcoming budget.

Information was presented on a proposed MASC Main Street SC revitalization program which the mayor would like to see the town implement.

The Town of Williamston and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the town’s Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) facility upgrade. Various officials from the town, county and Rural Development attended.

Absent were former Mayor Carthel Crout and former Town Administrator Phyllis Lollis who oversaw the $5 million project during the three years of construction. Also absent was former Public Works Director Tim Hood who was heavily involved in the project.

The Piedmont Public Service Commission considered a budget that involved no tax increase while providing a three per cent raise for the department’s fourteen full time employees. The budget funded the hiring of an additional fire fighter, bringing the department to full strength.

Dispatch services for the Town of Williamston were officially transferred to Anderson County 911 Center.

MAY

May 1 – Anderson County Council Vice-Chair Cindy Wilson and the Town of Williamston will host a wild hog control seminar. Wild Hog populations have seen a dramatic increase in recent years and subsequently cause tens of millions of dollars of damage annually.

Relay For Life of North Anderson County kicked off their annual fundraising event with a survivors dinner and an overnight walk at the Wren High School track.

Information presented by Williamston Mayor Mack Durham during a budget work session indicated that the town’s finances should improve tremendously over the next year.

Durham’s presentation included background information on the town’s finances under the two previous administrations.

A trend of a decline in the towns fund balance had reversed prior to Durham being elected and as a result the fund balance had improved to $1.46 million.

The Anderson School District One Board of Trustees approved the resignation of Palmetto High Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Jody LeCroy.

During a work session the Anderson School District One Board of Trustees were presented five options to consider that would increase armed security personnel in the District.

Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler and Associate Superintendent David Havird presented information on current security personnel and options ranging from hiring additional School Resource Officers (SROs) to have a presence in all 14 schools to hiring security guards for elementary schools. The consensus was to put $200,000 in the budget for additional security and to send a letter to the Anderson County School Board stating that the District supports any effort they may have to help fund additional security at schools throughout the county.

During a budget work session the Anderson School District One Board reviewed the proposed budget reflecting an estimated growth in the district of 91 students which will result in additional revenues of $191,191, based on the EFA Base Student Cost of $2,101. The budget also included an increase in taxes of 3.6 mills to a proposed millage rate of 132.1.

Approximately forty residents, business owners, and elected officials gathered to hear South Carolina Municipal Association’s Main Street program Director Beppie LeGrande’s presentation explaining the process that the downtown revitalization program offers to small towns.

May 8 – Williamston Town Council unanimously approved first reading on their 2013-14 budget, but without funding for an economic development program and coordinator. The budget projects revenues of $2,258,704 to expenses of $2,258,704.

A motion by Mayor Mack Durham to pass the budget as presented with $78,043 for a coordinator and other expenses for the proposed Main St. SC revitalization program was defeated by a 1-4 vote with only the mayor in favor.

Council approved first reading on a new smoking ordinance, an ordinance allowing fire pits and fireworks and approved a funding request for the Spring Water Festival.

The smoking ordinance prohibits smoking in public workplaces and recreational areas.

The Greater Williamston Business Association (GWBA) completed a membership drive adding 16 new members to the organization. GWBA president Chris Trotter was responsible for recruiting eight of those.

The town’s first Farmers Market was held in conjunction with the Pig in the Park Barbecue Festival and Cookoff.

May 15 – The 2013 Williamston Spring Water Pageant was held at the Williamston Municipal Center.

The towns and police departments of Williamston and West Pelzer entered into a mutual aid agreement that allows either agency to call on the other for additional law enforcement resources in times of emergency or unusual need.

The Piedmont Public Service Commission is moving ahead with their efforts to produce a balanced budget, despite the real possibility of a significant drop in revenues from Greenville County for the coming fiscal year

May 22 – Two topics related to the future of Pelzer and West Pelzer were being discussed. West Pelzer Mayor Peggy Paxton confirmed that she and the town council had been approached informally by representatives and residents of Pelzer and the surrounding mill village about a possible merger of the two towns.

A woman attempting to cross the Saluda River was rescued by two Anderson County deputies and a West Pelzer firefighter.

Anderson School District One named Doug Shaw Athletic Director and head football coach for Palmetto High School.

May 29 – The Anderson School District One Board of Trustees unanimously approved the 2013-2014 budget with expenditures of $57,798,143 during their regular monthly meeting. With expected revenues of $57,249,543, the board will need $548,600 from their general fund balance to balance the budget.

Retiring School District One Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler was honored at a drop-in at Palmetto High School. House District 10 Representative Joshua Putnam recognized Dr. Fowler with a presentation.

Dr. Fowler led the district through a $85.75 million bond referendum in 2008 resulting in the completion of the new high school in Powdersville and all schools receiving additions, renovations or safety and security upgrades in all buildings. Improvements were also made to athletic facilities.

WrenStock 2013, the class reunion for Wren High School Alumni between 1958 and 1999 was held at Anderson Motor Speedway.

Jack Ellenburg and Nancy Carroll, with help and encouragement from Williamston Mayor Mack Durham, the Town of Williamston, the Defenders Law Enforcement Motorcycle group and others made final plans to put on “Park Fest”, also billed as “A Hero’s Celebration” in Mineral Spring Park.

The 4th Annual Saluda River Rally was held at the Dolly Cooper Sports Complex in Powdersville and featured paddle trips on the Saluda River, bluegrass music, local outdoor/recreation-based businesses, shuttle service and food vendors.

The two day event also featured a single 9-mile paddle from Powdersville to the Saluda River Grill in the Town of Piedmont. Luckily most of the participants were off the river when extreme weather hit the area Sunday evening.

Beppie LeGrand of the SC Municipal Association presented information about the program to members of the GWBA. Only eleven members of the 40 plus member business association attended the presentation.

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation honored the winners of the 2013 AIAA Foundation Educator Achievement Awards at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. Sean McCullough, Project Lead the Way Instructor at the Anderson Districts I & II Career & Technology Center, was among those teachers receiving the award.

Jeff Boozer, Counselor at Palmetto High School in Anderson School District 1, was named the 2012-2013 South Carolina State School Counselor of the Year. He was also named the Pendleton Region Barbara H. James School Counselor of the Year for 2012-2013.

The condition of an earthen dam near Bigby Street in

Williamston had local and state officials concerned.

JUNE

June 5 – The first GWBA “Party in the Park” featured kids activities, food by local restaurants and the Eric Scott Band.

“ParkFest” featured a first class recognition program for local first responders along with music, fun and food.

The West Pelzer Police Department investigation of embezzlement of $3300 by a member of the West Pelzer School PTO was closed with no charges filed. West Pelzer Police Chief M. D. Clardy said the funds were repaid and the school district did not want to prosecute the case, so all charges were dropped.

Woodmont High senior Amanda Strickland won top individual in the state Career Development Event in the livestock evaluation contest.

Williamston Town Council approved their 2013-14 budget with funding included for a new program that will help the town in revitalization and economic development efforts.

The $78,043 in funding for the Main Street SC program provides for first year start up costs including a paid coordinator for the program which is offered through the SC Municipal Association.

June 12 – West Pelzer Town Council gave first reading approval to a proposed balanced budget which maintains the current millage while providing a three per cent across the board wage increase for the Town’s employees.

The vote came after more than an hour of discussion, most of which centered around a controversial offer from the town of Williamston to sell West Pelzer drinking water and using the savings to help fund the program.

After receiving an order from DHEC’s department of Dams and Reservoir Safety, the owner of an earthen dam was approached by a local man who offered to help with the problem.

Two rising 9th graders who played football at Powdersville Middle School were selected high school “All-Americans” and were considered among the top 100 players in the nation. “JJ” Gentile and “EJ” Humphrey both attended several football camps and combines during the spring where they have gone against some of the top players in the nation in their class.

Palmetto and Wren High Graduates received their diplomas at graduation services held at LittleJohn Coliseum in Clemson.

June 19 – Cody Bradley Hendry, the driver of a 2000 Honda involved in an accident on US Hwy. 29 in Nov. 2011 in which 17 year old Jaela Kelley was killed, pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless homicide.

Clemson University’s iconic Howard’s Rock was recently vandalized.

Former Senator T. Ed Garrison, Jr. died at age 91.

A Palmetto Elementary School student was diagnosed with Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

Pelzer Town Council approved an expenditure of $168,200 for repairs to the town’s water tower. Council also declined to approve a petition for annexation, submitted by Gilbert Garrett. Mayor Steve McGregor explained that the legal and surveying costs incurred by the town as part of the annexation process makes it difficult to justify annexing just one home at a time.

For only the second time in twenty two years, the Piedmont Public Service Commission voted to approve a budget that increases the millage for fire protection by two mills. The vote will result in an increase of eight dollars in taxes on a home valued at $100,000.

Commission Chairman Ed Poore defended the budget, saying that a variety of factors both justify and alleviate the increase. One key factor is that the current sewer repair and upgrade project will result in significant reductions in the sewer millage paid by sewer customers, as well as a reduction of $34 a year in the sewer fees charged customers.

The Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners gave final approval to the 2013-2014 budget and voted to fund the $17,120 needed to meet their obligation for future health insurance benefits for retired employees.

The budget, as approved unanimously, brought the complement of full time firefighters to fifteen, and for the first time in three years, provided a cost of living increase of three per cent. The budget remained balanced, due to an amended formula for receiving revenues from Greenville County; there was no millage increase.

The GWBA decided August 9 would be the date for a second “Party in the Park” event.

A new wall mural which depicts the spring house gazebo and spring in Mineral Spring Park was painted in the front office of the Willamston Municipal Center. The Springwater Committee funded the painting by by Dacusville artist Jendi Lindsay.

June 26 – The United Methodist Salkehatchie Summer Service workers were in the Williamston, Pelzer and Piedmont areas making improvements to a number of houses. During the week participants physically improve homes of needy families and reach out to these families and one another in friendship. Wren High School hosts the Salkehatchie workers while they are in the area.

For the second consecutive year West Pelzer and Pelzer officials decided not to hold a Fourth of July celebration.

The Town of Williamston did hold their Independence Day celebration and fireworks event.

David Havird officially took over as Anderson School District One Superintendent following the retirement of Dr. Wayne Fowler,

The Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard an update on the building program and the 2013-14 budget. New Superintendent Havird said that the five year, $86 million building program had significantly improved facilities and technology in District One.

The folllowing are the highlights and headlines of the second half of 2013 as reported in The Journal . . .

JULY

July 3 – Williamston Town Council went into executive session to discuss contractural and employment matters and receive legal advice. There was expected to be discussion with County officials about an economic development project in the area.

Williamston Mayor Mack Durham said there are a number of big projects in the works. “There are about a dozen exciting projects on the threshold that we will announce as soon as we can confirm them,” the mayor said. One of those projects is the SC Main St. program the town is implementing.

Williamston Town Council gave final approval of the Williamston/West Pelzer law enforcement mutual aid agreement, heard an update on the Gray Drive bridge and a security camera and approved changes on a plaque honoring Dr. Dwight Smith.

Williamston lost another landmark. The building that housed Deluxe Cleaners, a mainstay business on Mill Street for over 70 years was torn down.

July 10 – West Pelzer Town Council gave final approval to the 2013-2014 budget based on revenues of $859,000 and maintaining the current millage of .93. Projected expenditures are $838,000. Council also heard about several complaints including a sidewalk in need of repair and another involving the continued use of the jake brake by tractor trailers passing through town, especially late at night and in early morning hours.

The Journal reported on rumors that Walmart is coming to Williamston, however no official or public announcement had been made by Walmart or any public official or private landowner that would be involved in the process.

This we did confirm: There is surveying going on at property off Roberts Blvd. between the Lander Library and Palmetto Softball fields. Numerous “officials” have been told or are telling others that the rumors about Walmart are true.

But until someone in an official position or some other document or record confirms a rumor, it is still a rumor.

Williamston Town Council approved additional funding for a water line upgrade project to help customers of the Center St. area just off Beaverdam Road get increased water pressure.

July 17 – A group of people interested in the future of Pelzer met at the Pelzer community building to talk about crime, police protection, annexation and other issues affecting Pelzer.

Pelzer Town Council decided to proceed with allowing a Veterans Memorial on property at the Pelzer Monkey Park area and discussed annexation issues with interested citizens. There was also considerable discussion about vandalism in the Monkey Park and how to deal with it.

Twelve spillway gates at Hartwell Dam were opened to release excess water after heavy rainfall caused the reservoir to reach its maximum flood storage capacity of 665 feet per mean sea level. Other than routine spillway gate tests, it was the first time the spillway gates had been opened at the Hartwell Dam since Aug. 18, 1994. The only other occasion was on March 8, 1964.

David Havird officially took over as Anderson School District One School Superintendent. Jane Harrison was appointed Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. Robbie Binnicker was named Assistant Superintendent of Administration.

A collection of elected officials, county staff, outdoor enthusiasts and community planners gathered at the Williamston Municipal Center to hear about future plans for the establishment and expansion of recreational trails and waterways.

 

The area was well represented in The Miss South Carolina Pageant held at the Township Auditorium in Columbia.

Local contestants competing in the pageant included Miss Powdersville – Mckenzie Faulkner; Reagan Foster – Miss Piedmont Teen; Morgan Reynolds – Miss Liberty Teen; Haley Nichols – Miss Powdersville Teen and Ashlynn Storms – Miss Carolina Foothills Teen.

July 24 – The wettest spring and summer in recent memory helped crops, refilled lakes and ponds however consequences included fallen limbs and trees, a number of impassable and damaged roads.

July 31 – The Slabtown convenience center on Three and Twenty Road is slated to be closed and torn down with a new, larger and updated center replacing it.

Anderson School District One Board of Trustees were updated on the the nutrition program, the budget and how the District is preparing for the new common core standards that are being implemented statewide and nationally.

Representatives of all five Anderson County School Districts met to discuss the Anderson County Council Fee-in-Lieu tax proposal. Anderson County is considering Fee-in-Lieu incentives for new businesses or manufacturers locating in the county with the entire amount collected going to pay for infrastructure and other things and none of it going to school districts.

Melissa Lewis was named the head girls basketball coach at Woodmont High School. Lewis was a three-sport scholar athlete at Chapman High School and under the tutelage of Hall of Fame Coach, Jane Ashworth, was honored as an All-State basketball player on a State Championship team.

AUGUST

Aug. 7 – Williamston Town Council approved a change in the town’s smoking ordinance and approved the purchase of a new brush truck for the fire department.

Williamston Town Council approved first reading on a change in the town’s smoking ordinance to allow smoking in private offices which are not open to the general public and have a separate HVAC system from the area where employees work.

The ordinance prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces within the town and in outdoor places including playgrounds, ball fields, parks, outdoor arenas.

Williamston Town Council approved first reading on the annexation of just over 28 acres of land on Roberts Blvd.

Both petitions requested the property be zoned as Highway Commercial. The properties had recently been surveyed and there was considerable speculation that a major retail type store is considering locating there.

A change in the distribution of revenues produced by fee-in-lieu of taxes arrangements between the county and the county’s five school districts was withdrawn by District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson. To the relief of school officials, the current arrangement in which the schools receive more than seventy per cent of those funds will continue.

Several members of the Pelzer Heritage Commission traveled to NC for a visit with Captain Ellison Smyth’s great great granddaughter, Julie Heoggy, her brother Tom Hudgens, his friend Carla and Cousin Kate Hudgens.

A cooperative effort between elected officials, state and county staff and private citizens resulted in the opening of expanded bathroom facilities at the heavily used Hurricane Springs Park recreational facility.

Aug. 14 – The second GWBA “Party in the Park” had a great response despite an early afternoon thunderstorm which brought heavy rain and lightning.

The event, sponsored by the Greater Williamston Business Association and the Town of Williamston, with help from local businesses, featured music by Outshyne and other fun activities for families.

Pelzer Town Council heard a report from the Heritage Commission stating that the first phase of the brownfields assessment was back on track at the upper and lower mill sites. A voluntary cleanup contract should be in place by sometime in October. Other cleanup grant monies are expected to become available in the future as well. The group was working with the current owner of the 72 acres to obtain the property.

West Pelzer Town Council approved an arrangement to assure the town funding to complete the rehabilitation of its water lines.

The community development block grant (CDBG) funding that the town obtained more than a year ago is slated to become void in the coming weeks, if not claimed and used by the town. The problem is that the $450,000 has to be matched by the town to the tune of $48,000.

Dacusville artist Jendi Lindsay worked on a new mural on the Bethlehem building in Mineral

Spring Park. Lindsay also painted a mural in the Municipal Center which depicts the mineral spring and park. Both projects were funded by the Williamston Springwater Committee.

Aug. 21 – “South Carolina’s First Lady of Song, ” Belton native Loretta Holloway was announced as the headliner for the 32nd Annual Spring Water Festival. Holloway has opened shows for famous celebrities in Las Vegas, appeared on TV and in movies, traveled the world and entertained royalty. The two day event also featured the Original Out-of-Towners Band.

A special ceremony honored Dr. Dwight H. Smith who died June 13, 2006. A plaque dedicating the Mineral Spring Gazebo was presented in his memory by the town and the Williamston Area Historic Commisssion.

Christy Hughes, fourth grade teacher at Cedar Grove Elementary was named the School District One Teacher of the Year.

Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor encouraged local children to take a pledge and receive book bags and bracelets during a 107 Days of Non-Violence Day event held at the Caroline Community Center.

The Piedmont Public Service District saw a spike in medical calls by the fire department in June with thirty two. The increase, along with a doubling of service calls resulted in 65 total calls, a number which dipped to 48 in July.

Aug. 28 – Anderson School District One had a “very smooth opening” and students were using new technology and learning on the first day of school. On the seventh day of school, the District had enrollment of 9438 students, eighty more than last year.

The Williamston National Guard Armory was officially turned over to the town. Mayor Mack Durham welcomed a contingent of Guard, state, county and town representatives, as well as the public, to a brief ceremony held at the armory.

State House Dist. 9 Rep. Anne Thayer, who sponsored a resolution in the House of Representatives which allowed the return of the property attended as did Lt. Col Andrew Batten of the South Carolina National Guard

The 32nd annual Spring Water Festival enjoyed cooler temperatures and sunny skies. Attendance estimates were around 7000 to 8000.

SEPTEMBER

Sept. 4 – Woodmont HIgh School honored legendary player, coach, and athletic director Steve Candler by naming the press box in his honor.

The first Woodmonat High Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2013 was announced. Included: Ben Abrams, Jeff Bell, Stan Candler, Steve Candler, Jack Candler, Dennis Cannon, Zach Chandler, Lourenco Fowler, Fred Gilliam, Mo Howard, Lamont Jones, Beth Kendall, Angie McCullough, Sonya McNeil, Steven Owens, Steve Ward, Shaun White, Alfred Whitt, Janice Wilkins and Attala Young.

A man who had a tremendous impact on Williamston and surrounding areas, David R. “Doc” Chastain, passed away. Chastain, 97, was instrumental in bringing various amenities to the Williamston area including the Saluda Valley Country Club, The Vocational Center, the Williamston National Guard, Big Creek Water Sheds, the Williamston water filtration plant, Middleton Field, new girls softball and practice fields at Williamston High School.

He also supervised numerous improvements to Mineral Spring Park, was involved in the Christmas Park and helped draw plans to alleviate traffic problems around several Anderson County Schools.

Anderson County Council approved a resolution asking the SCDOT to investigate increasing the speed limit on Highway 153 in Powdersville from 35 mph to 45 mph. Council also approved a resolution recognizing the Palmetto High School Junior Air Force ROTC unit for outstanding achievement.

West Pelzer Town Council held a special meeting to amend an arrangement designed to assure the town funding to complete the rehabilitation of its water lines.

Sept. 11 – Williamston Town Council approved a proclamation supporting a cultural arts center that could be based in the recently acquired National Guard Armory building.

Sept. 18 – The Town of Williamston hosted an artist reception at the Williamston Municipal Center. Local artists were invited to bring and display their art to show support for a proposed cultural arts center.

Pelzer Town Council heard an update on a new crime watch program, entertained information on a cell tower lease and voted to accept seven properties into the town.

The Palmetto VW Club Creekside VW Campout and Show was held in Mineral Spring Park and included camping on Friday night and a cruise-in style show on Saturday.

Sept. 25 – An Urban Design and Landscape Architecture Class from Clemson University was in the process of evaluating Williamston’s downtown area to come up with working concepts of a redesigned downtown core commercial area.

The Town of Williamston officially joined the Main Street South Carolina program.

School District One Board of Trustees recognized West Pelzer Principal Dr. Stacy Hashe and teachers at the Title 1 School for being named Superior by the state.

OCTOBER

Oct. 2 – Palmetto Middle School was selected an Outstanding Making Middle Grades Work (MMGW) School for 2013, one of only nine MMGW schools in the nation to receive the award.

End of Course scores released by the State Department of Education showed District One students scores placed the district second in the state on the English Language Arts (ELA) assessment with 82.8 percent. This well surpasses the state average of 77.9 percent.

Greenville County Schools’ students posted an increase in passage rates on the state’s end-of-course exams in all four exam areas and outperformed the state average on ALL end-of-course tests.

A new “Homestead Festival” was held in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park. The event featured classes, exhibitions, information and a variety of items for sale from upstate vendors. The purpose of the new festival is to get people interested in becoming more self-sufficient and to provide classes for both experienced and new homesteaders, said SCOOL Director and festival organizer Rebecca McKinney. The event drew an estimated 3000 visitors and featured classes, exhibitions, and information.

The Pelzer Heritage Commission hosted a Pelzer Fall Festival in the Pelzer Monkey Park.

Oct. 9 – Ranny Knight of Williamston came across a nine-banded armadillo, which had apparently been hit by a car, on a street just inside the Williamton Town limits. The sighting of the medium sized mammal is rare in the upstate, SCDNR officials said.

Some Williamston councilmembers had second thoughts on a smoking ban ordinance and reservations about allowing a church to use the town’s gym for services. Councilman Rockey Burgess expressed concerns about the infringement of government on liberties of private business owners. “Who are we to legislate a private business owner,” he said about the town’s new smoking ordinance which prohibits smoking in parks, recreational areas and businesses.

Oct. 16 – Students from Palmetto Middle School volunteered to earn community service hours helping with the cleanup of the National Guard Armory building. The volunteer clean up began the restoration of the old building soon to become the exciting new cultural arts center of Williamston.

An Eagle Scout project in Mineral Spring Park honoring Ken Bearden and headed up by Scout JT Gentry was completed.

Stanley “Shawn” Davis pled guilty to the murder of his mother in January of this year. Mrs. Davis had gone to the neighbor’s house and told him that her son had set her on fire.The Honorable Lawton McIntosh sentenced Davis to 30 years in prison.

Pelzer Town Council tentatively approved a contract which will assure the town of steady and significant revenues from the leasing of its cell tower site after the current contract expires in ten years.

The Town of Williamston and supporters of the arts announced plans to establish a Cultural Arts Center and program in the Williamston area. The Williamston Cultural Arts Center will be housed in the National Guard Armory building recently acquired by the town, while the establishment of a performing and cultural arts program is gaining support in the community.

Oct. 23 – The Piedmont Public Service Commission approved a request for a street light at the intersection of Hayne Street and Cassandra Street in order to light up a dark area that is being

frequented by loiterers.

Williamston and the surrounding area have been plagued by a rash of burglaries and home invasions. Fed up residents of the Big Creek area met with law enforcement officials to organize the Cannon Bottom Watchdogs.

Oct. 30 – Area law enforcement, fire, and EMS agencies joined for a tactical entry training exercise at Palmetto High School and the Armory over the weekend.

Duke Energy Carolinas recently filed an application seeking approval to construct and operate a 750-megawatt natural gas-fired combined cycle plant at the existing Lee Steam Station in Anderson County. The new plant could begin commercial operation as early as June 2017.

Organizers of Boo in the Park estimated that there may have been as many as 6,000 attending the annual event.

NOVEMBER

Nov. 6 – West Pelzer Town Council has two new members. Former councilman Jimmy Jeanes was the top vote getter while Johnny Rogers, Sr. edged out Pat Black.

Williamston Town Council heard an audit report, approved second reading on rules of council, revised a proposal to use the gymnasium for church services and heard several reports and presentations. The town also heard reports on public safety initiatives of the police department and an update on a new fire truck.

Auditor Larry Finney, of Greene, Finney and Horton CPAs reported the Town’s General Fund revenues for 2013 were $2,470,000, while General Fund expenditures were $2,535,000, resulting in a $65,000 deficit.

The Town of Willliamston will honor area veterans with a Veterans Day Parade followed by a program honoring Veterans at the Williamston Veterans Memorial.

Williamston Fire Chief Steve Ellison reported that members of the fire department had traveled to Atlanta to inspect a new brush response truck the department is purchasing.

Nov. 13 – Workers completed a sewer line repair off Gossett Street in Williamston and will begin repair soon on a storm water drainage problem located behind Grace United Methodist Church on Mill St. The repairs made on a sewer line will stop an inflow of as much as 100,000 gallons per day into the town’s sewer treatment system.

In a Journal interview, Williamston Mayor Mack Durham said there are five primary areas he is focusing on. They are the Main St. Program, Park Expansion/Trails, Depot Restoration/Farmers Market, the Armory/Arts Center and engaging the community.

The Town of Williamston, and Williamston Police Department along with community, religious, business and Hispanic leaders held a Festival of Unity “Festival de la Union” in Mineral Spring Park.

West Pelzer Town Council accepted the low bid for the next phase of the town’s water system upgrades. The project will be funded by a CDBG grant, and the low bid, which was accepted, was just over $364,000. Young Plumbing was the contractor. Council also voted to postpone the planned town centennial celebration until May, in order to have better weather than might be expected on the actual date of December 24.

School District One maintained an excellent rating for the fourth year in a row on the state report card issued recently by the SC Department of Education. The absolute value calculated on the report card places Anderson One in 5th place in the state for student achievement.

Pelzer Town Council heard proposals from Greenville Water related to a major change in the way the two entities would do business in the future; a change that could save the town tens of thousands of dollars each year. At the heart of the proposal are changes that are currently underway in the way in which water providers are being regulated.

Approximately 200 people attended a Wreath laying and remembrance program which was held following the area’s inaugural Veterans Day Parade.

Nov. 21 – Anderson School District One Board of Trustees reconginzed two students for being named to leadership positions during at the Boys State/Girls State conference. Powdersville High student Michelle Troup was elected Governor of Girls State and Wren High student Namik Patel elected Governor of Boys State.

The early steps of the process of constructing sidewalks along both sides of Highway 153, and south along Highway 81 have been taken.

The Piedmont Public Service Commission awarded a contract for the reroofing of Fire Station Two, while delaying the award of a contract to pave the community building parking lot.

Eighty-one Greenville County schools received Absolute ratings of Excellent, Good, or Average on their 2013 School Report Cards, an increase from 78 schools in 2012.

Nov. 28 – West Pelzer Town Council held a special called meeting to consider a possible change in how the Town purchases its potable water supply. David Bereskin and Phil Robey of Greenville Water explained that the Town could reserve their required amounts of drinking water in advance and receive a significant reduction in the cost per thousand gallons.

DECEMBER

Dec. 4 – Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard the annual audit report, purchased property in Powdersville and heard a presentation on technology that will help transition teaching to a digital format.

South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT) officials were in Williamston to look over the proposed route for a walking/biking trail.

Christian Men United in Prayer sponsored their annual Thanksgiving Project, providing meals for 224 area families.

Williamston Town Council approved a learning trail project, updated police department procedures and authorized the fire department to begin searching for a new transport vehicle. The town’s new Main St. SC Executive Director Caroline Alex was also introduced at the meeting.

During the Williamston Town Council meeting Monday, Pamela Owens, a resident of the Gray Drive area, asked about several items related to the neighborhood including the status of the Gray Drive bridge, a shed and a camera for the Gray Drive park.

Town attorney Richard Thompson said the county had not decided whether to pursue legal action to have the bridge repaired and reopened. Thompson said if the county does attempt to enforce a court order to have it fixed, the railroad will say that “it will cost to much.”

Williamston’s new Main Street Program officially kicked off with a baseline assessment held over a two day period next week. Representatives of the National Main Street Center and Main Street SC met with city officials, local leaders and committee members to begin sharing perspectives and vision for Williamston’s downtown and the Main Street program.

Dec. 11 – West Pelzer Town Council delayed a decision on a proposal by Greenville Water to purchase capacity to insure the Town’s future capacity.

The Williamston Christmas parade was rescheduled due to rain. Parade Chairman Walter Smith said it was the first time he could remember the parade having to be postponed due to weather. The Bonnes Amies canceled the Piedmont Parade.

Dec. 18 – During a special called meeting West Pelzer Town Council voted to accept a proposal by Greenville Water. After more than an hour of questioning and discussion, Council approved a contract in which the term of the agreement would be for a forty year period, with two consecutive thirty year extensions, unless one or both parties chose to terminate and include a ten year loan from GW, which would finance the buy-in cost at 3.5%.

Dec. 25 – Steve Clardy, a local police officer with 25 years in law enforcement, will be retiring at the end of the year. Clardy was hired by the Town of Williamston on January 12, 1987. His last day at work will be December 31, 2013. A Retirement ‘Drop In’ will be held at the police department on December 31, from noon until.