Looking Back at 2015 . . .

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By David Meade

Another year gone by. The following Year in Review reflects news and event highlights reported in The Journal for 2015:

JANUARY

Jan 7 – During their first meeting of 2015, Williamston Town Council approved funding for a MLK breakfast, abandoned and closed Hospital Street, approved In God We Trust lettering for Council chambers. Reelected councilmembers Rockey Burgess and Tony Hagood were sworn in. Gatewood residents expressed frustrations and concerns about the entrance into their subdivision. Concerns ranged from the safety of school buses, emergency vehicles and a Leachate tanker crossing the damaged entrance to what will happen if the entrance becomes impassable.

Anderson School District One officials announced that due to safety concerns, school bus service into the Gatewood subdivision was temporarily suspended.

Chick-fil-A opened in Powdersville bringing 60 new jobs.

Results of the West Pelzer special election were certified showing Donnie Jeanes won the vacant town council seat.

A community meeting held at Cedar Grove Elementary School provided a lot of information and concerns, some old and some new for residents of the Cheddar community. Topics covered included safety and other issues involving tanker trucks, trash trucks, the landfill, coal ash removal, policing and crimewatch, and a recent leak in the gas pipeline that runs through the area.

Work was underway at the Lee Steam Station which had burned coal to produce electricity for more than six decades. It was recently retired as the last coal fed steam plant in South Carolina. In addition to upgrades at the facility, Duke prepared to begin work on a new W. S. Lee Natural Gas Combined Cycle Facility. The project includes construction of a $500 million dollar gas-fired plant. An equally important $100 million dollar ash removal program will be underway.

The Anderson Sports & Entertainment Center earned the designation, “Southern Region” Complex of the Year by the Independent Sports Association during their annual conference.

A storm related washout that has caused concerns for the town and residents of Gatewood Subdivision became more of a problem as heavy rains caused a recurrence of problems at the previously repaired site entrance. Previous estimates for the necessary repairs were $425,000.

After several years of being on hold, Williamston’s Phase 2 Street Enhancement Project is set to get underway.

Jan. 14 – The Pelzer Heritage Commission announced they would be taking steps toward clearing the mill properties and seeking public input from the community on how they would like to see the property developed.

Truman Ellison of the Cheddar community said that evidence of “Global Warming” could be seen in Cheddar as below freezing temperatures produced an “ice farm”.

Pelzer Town Council began holding their monthly meetings on the second Monday of the month. Mayor Steve McGregor said increased interest in annexation into the town and the fact that more people wanted to get involved led to the decision. More than 30 residents attended the council meeting held at the Pelzer Community Building.

Pelzer Council approved the sale of the Pelzer pool, agreed to outsource payroll and placed the lagoon property with a professional realtor. The big news was the announcement that the town plans to proceed with a 25 percent petition and election method of annexation.

The Pelzer Heritage Commission is partnering with Anderson County on a neighborhood blight elimination initiative program. The County is in the process of applying for a grant through the SC Housing Office, which makes funds available to acquire property with substandard residential housing and to tear it down.

The Anderson County Transportation Committee (ACTC) voted to allocate approximately $285,000 for the repaving of streets affected by the extensive Piedmont sewer update project. Anderson County exercised it’s encroachment policy to require the project contractors to set aside $560,000 for repaving.

Jan. 21 – The Town of Williamston commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a first annual MLK breakfast and memorial program. Greenville County Council District 3 representative Jil Littlejohn was the featured speaker.

The Woodmont High School Athletic Hall of Fame honored their 2nd class of five inductees including: Sherry Carter, Sam Perry, Donald Crowe, Kristi Kerns Farmer and Gary Moon. Former Woodmont and Clemson University standout Sam Perry had his jersey retired.

Journal sports reporter Mike Matthews experienced health problems over recent weeks but is now recovering well at Anderson Rehab in Anderson.

Jan. 28 – Anderson School District One Board of Trustees elected officers, approved the 2015-16 school calendar, approved food sevice policy and personnel including extending the contract for Superintendent David Havird.

Anderson University baseball was placed seventh in the annual Preseason South Atlantic Conference Coaches’ Poll. Standout first baseman, Steven Cooper, (Palmetto) was named to the preseason All-SAC First Team list, announced by the league office.

Kinder Morgan, Inc. is proposing an extension of the Belton pipeline.

Three year old Ariel Barker was excited about a new pirate ship playhouse which was built specially for her by the Make-A-Wish® Foundation.

West Pelzer Town Council voted to accept a proposed purchase agreement with Greenville Water Company that will insure the Town both adequate capacity for its future needs as well as lower costs for water.

In an effort to show that the entranceway into the Gatewood subdivision is safe for vehicle traffic, an engineer working for the ACTC and the Williamston Fire Department performed a load test on the roadway and underlying culvert.

FEBRUARY

Feb. 4 – The Palmetto Cash 5 drawing produced a ticket worth $200,000 which was sold at the Williamston Curb Market.

Anderson County Sheriff’s investigators were looking for two suspects in connection with an incident on Palmetto Road in which one vehicle was rammed and forced off the road and another vehicle abandoned and set on fire.

The Town of Pelzer began accepting signatures for a petition for the 25% Annexation Method..

Anderson County rescue squads and EMS units were struggling to adjust to new federal Medicaid regulations concerning the transport of nonemergency patients.

Former Community First Bank (CFB) Vice President Benjamin Hiott was named in a lawsuit alleging the former banker is involved in $1.7 million missing from a trust fund.

Longtime Anderson School District One Board members Fred Alexander and Nancy Upton were recognized during the January School Board meeting for 25 years of service to education.

Feb. 11 – Williamston officials met with SCDOT “C” Program Manager Chris Jordan to look at options related to safety and traffic flow concerns associated with the town’s new street enhancement project on West Main St. Just as the congestion of construction workers and equipment left and motorists are becoming used to the new driving pattern, the project also became a political issue, resulting in some members of council wanting to change the town’s form of government, again.

Williamston Town Council approved $75,000 in funding for a comprehensive Master Plan and an additional $25,000 for implementation of the plan.

The Anderson County Transportation Committee approved plans to build a temporary road from Williams Street to Ridge Court in the Gatewood Subdivision.The ACTC has allocated $425,000 for the project which Bragg said he believes will cover the cost of an arched culvert and redoing the entranceway to the subdivision and building the temporary access road.

West Pelzer Town Councilman Jimmy Jeanes brought up the issue of the town’s finances and his solution for those problems. The town was already planning to execute another TAN in the coming budget year, because of cash flow problems.

Feb. 18 – West Pelzer Town Council approved authorizing a maximum of $1,000 an event at Chapman park with a proposal to sponsor one event in the spring, summer and fall.

A special called meeting of West Pelzer Town Council was held to address an ongoing cash flow problem and to hold second reading on a budget amendment, which will in effect eliminate one position in the police department and one part-time position in the Water-Sewer Department.

Approximately one quarter inch of ice coated the area causing schools, governments and businesses to shut down Tuesday and operated on a two hour delay on Wednesday.