Looking Back 2016 Year in Review


Highlights of the Year 2016 for the Williamston, Pelzer, West Pelzer and Piedmont and surrounding communities as covered by David Meade and Stan Welch were as follows:


Jan. 6 – Williamston Councilman Rockey Burgess suggested that the salary for the mayor be restored to the level it was prior to it being reduced ten years ago. That level was set at $2,000 per month, and was reduced to $800 per month during the town’s financial straits at the time. The salary for the Council members was also reduced from $600 a month to $400 a month. Mayor Mack Durham said that the only way he could support the raise was if Council members’ salaries were also restored to the previous level.

During their first meeting of the new year, Williamston Town Council approved an ordinance to re-name the new Ridge Court Extension, approved $25,000 to renovate the gym at Town Hall and approved a salary increase for mayor and council that will take effect in 2017.

Newly elected West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders was sworn in during the first meeting of West Pelzer Town Council along with re-elected councilmember Donnie Jeanes and newly elected councilmember Jim Riddle.

State Representative Anne Thayer and Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson hosted a public meeting to address the issues and problems caused by litter in the county.

Senator Billy O’Dell passed away. O’Dell was elected to represent Senate District 4 in 1989 and was instrumental on the state and local level.

Jan. 13 – Anderson County Communications Director Angela Stringer is leaving the County to assume the position of executive director of the Cancer Association of Anderson (CAA)

With the exception of Mayor Steve McGregor, an all new Pelzer Town Council held their first official meeting of 2016 at the Pelzer Community Building. Newly elected council members, Olene Bear, Roger Scott Sr., Will Ragland, and Kimberly Wilson were sworn in.

Mayor McGregor nominated Roger Scott as mayor Protempore. In their first official action as elected officials, Councilmember Kim Wilson made a motion seconded by Olene Bear and Scott was unanimously elected Mayor Protempore.

Local pastor and Williamston resident Mark Wall is serving as the South Carolina Evangelical Coalition Leader for Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson. Wall said he was surprised and in shock that he was selected by the Carson campaign to head the coalition of ministers and to work with Dr. Carson in the state.

Jan. 20 – Newly elected West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders moved briskly and efficiently through the agenda presenting brief reports on the fire department, police department, public works department and the town’s financial status.

The West Pelzer Fire Departmet elected Chris Karr to its board; gave Curtis Mahaffey an appreciation award; recognized Daniel Brooks’ ten years of service and recognized Jordan Smith for making the most runs. Connor Townsley and Jordan Smith were named firefighters of the year, and Seth Blackwell was named junior firefighter of the year.

Skeletal remains were found in a wooded area in the Powdersville area of a 46-year-old Greenville County man who has been missing since May. The man was identified as Gary Calvin Burton from the serial number on an implanted heart defibrillator.

State Representative Mike Gambrell and Williamston Town Councilman and local business owner Rockey Burgess both announced their intentions to run for the seat recently vacated by the passing of long time state Senator Billy O’Dell.

Jan. 27 – The Powdersville Water District (PWD) Board of Directors voted to increase the capacity fee for all new development in the fast growing area. The current fee,of $1.85 per gallon, has been in place unchanged since 2005; but over the next 18 months, will increase to $3.41 per gallon. The initial increase was to go into effect on May 1.

County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson traveled with a group including Pelzer town officials, two county staff members and members of the Pelzer Heritage Commission, to Columbia to meet with Governor Haley’s deputy chief of staff, Joshua Baker.

Anderson School District One principals and students presented books which will be placed in school libraries throughout the district in appreciation and honor of school board members. Superintendent David Havird presented a 10 year pin to Board Member Dr. Doug Atkins for his service on Anderson School District One Board and the South Carolina School Board Association. Board member David Merritt was recognized for 20 years of service as a District One Board member.

Anderson School District One Board of Trustees approved a one year contract extension for Superintendent David Havird.

Gregory Rowe of Williamston was named the North America Sport Karate Association (NASKA) National Champion recently in Chicago. Through out the year Gregory fought in many competitions including in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, Minnesota, Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Nashville and Myrtle Beach to win the title.


Feb. 3 – Former Palmetto High Principal Dr. Mason Gary, Superintendent of Anderson School District Three, accepted the position of Greenville County Schools Deputy Superintendent.

Martin Road was being closed for road improvement construction work associated with the expansion and relocation of Techtronic Industries Power Equipment facilities near the I-85/SC 81 Interchange.

Feb. 10 – Williamston Town Council approved a pay increase, discussed two issues related to the Gatewood subdivision, approved use of the park for a new spring festival and authorized an agreement to allow off duty Williamston police officers to work traffic control at Lee Steam Station.

Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall reported she was conducting an online survey for the GWBA concerning a possible change in the organization’s name. She also reported that Envision Williamston has a new website at www.envisionwilliamston.com.

West Pelzer Town Council approved changes to their employee handbook, addressed mobile home zoning and received a preliminary report on the Town’s audit for the last fiscal year.

A representative of Payne, White & Schmutz informed the Council that the Town had received an unmodified opinion, or the best opinion available. Council addressed the sewer upgrade, streetlights, staggered council terms, a property sale, and heard their annual audit report.

Feb. 17 – Three new Wayfinding Signs were placed along Main Street (Hwy. 20) in Williamston. The bright blue signs are located on Greenville Drive, West Main St. at Gossett and Anderson Drive. and point visitors toward major landmarks in the town including the Farmers Market, The Artory, Town Hall and Mineral Spring Park. The signs are another project of the Envision Williamston Main Street economic development program.

Mill Town Players presented their first Southern comedy, The Foreigner, by Larry Shue.

A combination of drugs and hypothermia are believed to have caused the death of Williamston man. Timothy Mahaffey, 59, was found next to his car in the driveway where he lived on Durham Drive.

Wet cold winter weather slowed a number of construction projects in the area including the Powdersville YMCA facility and the Wren Fire Department Station 24. The old Wren Fire Station, built in 1974, was demolished.

Members of the Greater Williamston Business Association (GWBA) decided to change the name of the local business association which has been in existence since the mid 1980s. The organization will be known as the Palmetto Business Association once a new logo and paperwork associated with the name change is completed.

Feb. 24 – After making campaign and town hall type appearances all over the Upstate over the last two weeks, Republican Presidential Candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson had the opportunity to speak to conservatives at the Conservative Convention held at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville. Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Trey Gowdy were scheduled to appear, but did not.

The crowd of approximately 5000, heard from nationally known conservatives in both politics and the media including Michelle Malkin, Matt Kibbe, David Brat, David Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, US. Senator Mike Lee, US Rep. Louie Gohmert, Mark Levin, US Rep. Jeff Duncan and others.

The charge of Malicious Injury to Personal Property involving moving a mailbox that was filed against Williamston Town Councilman Otis Scott was dismissed.

Anderson School District One

had twelve schools receiving Gold awards as part of the SC Department of Education 2014-2015 Palmetto Gold and Silver Winners. Twelve schools earned a gold award for their student achievement, two earned gold awards for closing the achievement gap and three earned silver.

During a special called meeting, Williamston Town Council held a public hearing and approved a $19,032 match for a Federal Highway Administration grant for the proposed extension of the Mineral Spring Trails greenway.

At a Town Hall meeting in Clemson, Ronald Rowe of Williamston had the opportunity to speak to Republican Presidential hopeful and Ohio Governor John Kasich about a Workers Compensation claim he has been dealing with for over three years.

While cancer survivor Kate Callaham was going through treatments, the idea of Kate’s Crates was born. Kate and many volunteers including members of the Palmetto High National Honor Society, stuff wooden crates with comfort items for others fighting cancer.

Mar. 3 – According to a study and interactive crime map released by ConsumerAffairs.com, West Pelzer was named one of the safest cities in the nation.

Residents of West Pelzer had to endure a boil water order after a contractor running cable for AT&T broke the six inch main. The town lost approximately 124,000 gallons, enough to service the town for a day and a half.

The process to address problems facing the county’s various EMS and Rescue Squad organizations continued. The Pelzer Rescue Squad was asked to send one representative to meet with the consultants hired by Anderson County to determine the best means to provide emergency health services to the county.

Mar. 9 – Several hundred people showed up for a vigil for three young people killed in a single car accident on Langston Road. Among the victims were Danielle Williams, 17, Kayla Mann, 21, and Lance Jones, 20. Mick Brown, 20, was in the back seat and managed to crawl out of the wreckage. All four had ties to Wren and Powdersville high schools.

Williamston Town Council approved a Community Master Plan, set regulations and fees for use of the Municipal Center and authorized a property transfer that will aid in a new business locating in a long empty building in Williamston.

The Master Plan is a guide for economic development, design and planning for the future of Williamston. Input received from the community along with market studies of the business, retail and other assets of the community, were used to come up with recommendations included in the plan. The plan will be implemented by the town through the Envision Williamston program.

Pelzer Town Council announced a new council meeting format, heard an update on the sewer project, streetlights and posting of the lagoon property.

Mayor Steve McGregor explained that under the new meeting format, citizens must sign up to speak to council and will be allowed three minutes to speak on issues affecting the town. Resident input will be held at the beginning of the meeting, he said.

Pelzer Town Council held a workshop during which there was discussion concerning a variety of issues including town meeting policy, master plan/comprehensive plan, the Pelzer Historic Commission, the Pelzer Heritage Commission, renovation of the old hospital and Pelzer gym and other issues. The meeting lasted approximately two and a half hours.

Mar 16 – Williamston Councilmember Otis Scott graduated from the Advanced Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government. Graduates received their certificates during the Municipal Association of South Carolina’s Hometown Legislative Action Day.

Approximately 4,000 customers in the Powdersville area lost power after an animal “interacted” with electrical equipment, according to Duke Energy.

West Pelzer Town Council agreed to create the GoWest Community Development Corporation (CDC) to provide the town with a funneling agency for grants that would otherwise remain unavailable to the town.

The Williamston area is home to two North America Sport Karate Association National Champions. Gregory Rowe is the 5 and under sparring points national Champion, and Kimber Bentley is the 9 and 10 point sparring Champion.

Fran Campbell and Lynn Hicks, coaches at Wren High School, were inducted into the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in Columbia.

Mar. 23 – The Fork Shoals Historical Society installed a SC Historical Marker on the Fork Shoals school grounds after The South Carolina Department of Archives and History designated Fork Shoals School as an historic landmark.

Fork Shoals School was established in 1877 on the grounds of the current Fork Shoals Baptist Church. It is the oldest school in Greenville County.

Since none of the five candidates running for the Senate District 4 seat received more than fifty percent of the vote, top vote getters Rep. Mike Gambrell of Honea Path and Williamston Town Councilman Rockey Burgess will be in a runoff election on April 5.

Mar. 30 – James Robert Tharp, 17, a Junior at Wren High, was fatally injured in a single vehicle accident on Wren School Road.

Anderson County Deputy Coroner Don McCown said the death of a 3-month-old at an in-home day care on Youth Center Road in the Cheddar community was “an unfortunate accident,” and the day care operator was in no way responsible.

Miracle Hill Ministries will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its latest thrift store location at the intersection of 3 Bridges Road and Highway 153 in Powdersville.

The second annual Anderson School District One Student Art Show opening reception was held at the Artory in Williamston.

The annual Textile Sports Reunion was held in the Piedmont Gym and Community Center in Piedmont.

Williamston Fire Chief Steve Ellison was selected as a finalist for Liberty Mutual Insurance’s National Firemark Award that recognizes local firefighters for valor and exceptional service in the community.

Apr. 6 – Kinder Morgan announced that they are suspending work on the proposed $1 billion Palmetto Pipeline project.The pipeline company planned to expand its Belton tank farm and run a new pipeline from Belton to Jacksonville.

The project needed more than 200 miles of easements, or rights of way across Georgia and approximately another 100 miles of easements in South Carolina.

The Town of Williamston will apply for a $1.576 million USDA Federal loan to purchase 2400 automated meter readers for the town.

Williamston Town Council approved several requests for upcoming events and heard details on a Spring photography contest. The newly renamed Palmetto Business Association was approved for $6500 in funding for two Party in the Park events. Council also unanimously approved second reading adopting the Community Master Plan as an ordinance.

The Wren High School Winter Guard won the Carolina Indoor Performance Association Novice Class Championship at Western Carolina University.

Mike Gambrell was the winner in the Senate District Four Republican Primary runoff. Gambrell will serve the final few months of Sen. Billy O’Dell’s term, but still had to participate in the June primaries and the November general election to be elected to serve the full term beginning in January.

Apr. 13 – West Pelzer Town Council acted on a number of matters including approving a plan to create an enlarged public parking area between the former NAPA auto parts store and Chapman Park. Council also clarified and consolidated the guidelines for the distribution and collection of water and sewer bills.

Pelzer Town Council heard an update on their sewer project, new street lights and approved a change in council terms of office. Residents had concerns about drainage problems, flooding and speeding on Finley Street, citizen input not being allowed during a council meeting, water pressure and incorrect water meter readings.

The Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard a special report on the AdvancED Accreditation.

West Pelzer Town Council unanimously gave first reading approval to the proposed budget for fiscal year 2016-2017, Mayor Blake Sanders presented a draft document which reflected a total budget $958,002, a decrease from last year of 5.7 per cent.

Apr. 20 – A special dedication program and new road signs were displayed for Brock Lane which is named for one of the first to live in the subdivision, Wayne Brock. The new roadway is now the main entrance into the Gatewood Subdivision.

The Greater Williamston Business Association is now officially known as the Palmetto Business Association (PBA).Members of the newly renamed organization chose a logo designed by students at the Career and Technology Center to reflect the new


Apr. 27 – Riley McDermott, the former Anderson University assistant coach involved in a 2014 DUI wreck in which three young people were killed, was sentenced to 18 years in prison

The Anderson School District One Board of Trustees got their first look at the draft budget for the upcoming year during a work session. The 2016-17 proposed budget benefited greatly from increases in state funding and proceeds from the local option sales tax.

According to Superintendent David Havird, the District is seeing growth return to previous levels resulting in more students. As a result, District One plans to add eight full time teachers.

Williamston Town Council members and department heads previewed the town’s 2016-17 budget. There was discussion about the need for an eventual tax increase as well as possible increases in the water/sewer rate and other fees and the need to replace aging equipment in the Street Department and Fire Department. Councilman Otis Scott said he would like to see a three percent cost of living raise for employees, especially since the mayor and council will see increases in their salaries in January.

The Anderson School District One Board unanimously approved the purchase of 1,400 new auditorium seats for Wren and Palmetto High Schools. The project will cost approximately $223,000. Funding for the project will be from a contingency fund of the local option sales tax.

Pelzer Town Council continued to work and struggle with the task of expanding the town’s services. During a workshop they discussed several issues including the fate of the town’s recreation and athletic programs. A common theme was the growing awareness of just how much work needs to be done to establish a much larger municipality as well as actually building a foundation from which to start

May 4 – Williamston Town Council approved first reading on the 2016-17 budget with no tax increase. Total Revenues and Expenditures are budgeted at $2,947,373, up $117,000 from $2,830,373 last year.

Amy Blinson of SC Parks, Recreation and Tourism, (SCPRT) and Jill Francisco of the SC Department of Commerce offered information on grants and other resources that may be available to help with Pelzer Mills Properties and the Town of Pelzer.

For four years the Williamston area has been looking for signs and hoping that the talk of Walmart coming to town is true. The Journal confirmed that there are ongoing communications between WalMart’s engineering firm and the Anderson County permitting office.

Williamston Town Council approved first reading to officially adopt a zoning map, addressed several other zoning related matters, amended the sign ordinance and approved first reading on the 2016-17 budget.

Main Street/Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall updated council on activities of the economic development program including placement of wayfinding signs, promotion of community events, community engagement with a photo contest and recent completion of a Community Master Plan.

May 11 – The Town of West Pelzer officially formed the Go West Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization that will serve as the town’s qualifying agent for grants and possible low interest loans for future projects. The corporation is designated as a public benefit corporation, and its board members will coincide with the members of the town council.

The first meeting of the Go West board was held for the purpose of adopting bylaws, as well as considering which grants to pursue.

West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders and Police Chief Mike Clardy had held what Sanders described as a very productive meeting with the Pelzer Town Council, concerning a possible arrangement about police services.

The annual Pig in the Park Barbecue Festival and Cookoff will be held in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park.

The Palmetto Business Association (former GWBA) will hold their first Party in the Park event of 2016 on Saturday, May 21st. The event will begin at 5 p.m. and will feature music by the James Radford Band and the Eric Scott Band.

Pelzer Town Council approved first reading on their 2016-17 budget which reflects the town’s decision to not continue funding a recreation program which was operating at a $23,000 loss and had become a drain on limited finances. Council approved final reading on an election ordinance providing for staggered terms for mayor and council members.

Mayor McGregor announced that the town’s recreation director B. J. Tompkins had resigned and that he had talked with the town’s longtime community building and senior program director Shelby Stanton about the program being ended.

The future for youth recreation for the Pelzer -Williamston (Palmetto area) program has been the topic of considerable discussion for officials of both towns.

The two towns have provided separate recreation programs for area children that combined under the same director two years ago operating as a loosely coordinated combined program with part-time funding coming from both towns for a part-time director B. J. Tompkins.

May 18 – Turnout was very low for the Senate District Four Special Election, however Republican Primary winner Mike Gambrell had no trouble getting the votes needed to secure his position as the winner.

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Matthew Scott Hafler, 23, of Piedmont following a vehicle pursuit in the Wren-Spearman area which resulted in manhunt and lock-down of Spearman Elementary School.

The Pelzer Heritage Commission and Anderson County are in the process of obtaining grant funding for another cleanup project at the Pelzer Mill properties. If approved, the project will be funded with a loan from the EPA, and administered by the Catawba Council of Governments.

If approved the Pelzer project will receive an EPA $250,000 loan, with a thirty per cent forgiveness feature, meaning that only $175,000 will have to be repaid. That repayment will come from the County general fund, with no cost to the Town of Pelzer or the Pelzer Heritage Commission, according to County Planning Director Michael Forman.

Breazeale, Cheddar and Hopewell Roads will become restricted to truck traffic after third reading approval of an ordinance at the first June meeting of the County Council.

May 25 – Williamston Town Councilman Otis Scott announced that he plans to run for re-election to the Ward 4 Council seat. Scott said he was planning to announce that he would not be seeking reelection, but changed his mind after speaking with his pastor and praying about the decision.

West Pelzer Town Council held a series of meetings in preparation for completing and approving the budget for fiscal year 2016-17. Mayor Blake Sanders said there was no increase in taxes or fees and the budget is balanced.

The General Fund budget increased by $42,000, due to the establishment of a contingency fund, a capital improvement program fund, a victims fund and a reserve fund. There was discussion of the fate of the Pelzer recreation program, and West Pelzer’s obligation to contribute.

Representatives of Meridian Behavioral Health Systems met with members of Williamston Town Council to explain their plans for the old Williamston hospital building on Williams Street.

Workers were in the process of a $2 million renovation of the facility which will serve as a residential group home for ages 6 to 21.


June 1 – Anderson School District One Board of Trustees approved final reading on the 2016-17 $66.2 million budget and approved nine additional personnel for the upcoming school year.

Principals and representatives of District One schools receiving gold and silver awards for General Performance and Closing the Achievment Gap were presented flags recognizing their award for the 2014-15 school year.

During a budget work session Williamston Mayor Mack Durham, Councilmembers and Department Heads went through each department discussing various details of the budget. Most of the discussion was related to Parks and Recreation and the Hospitality Tax fund.

The Seventh Annual Saluda River Rally was held at the Dolly Cooper Sports Complex in Powdersville. The two-day event is free and featured a series of paddle trips for kayaks, canoes and tubes, as well as bluegrass music, outdoor exhibits and food vendors and camping.

June 8 – The Coca Cola Bottling Company held a ribbon cutting for its new distribution center located at exit 35, at the intersection of I-85 and Highway 86.

Construction of the new TTI/Ryobi facility is drawing to a close. A major aspect of the project was the reconfiguring of Martin Road and Orange Way.

Williamston Town Council planned to hold final reading on the 2016-17 General Fund Budget with revenues and expenses of $2,967,373. The Water Fund bud

get is $931,300. The Sewer Fund budget is $968,000.

During a work session held prior to the meeting, discussion focused on road repairs, codes enforcement, a new administrative position and use of hospitality tax funds.

June 15 – Pelzer Town Council gave final approval to their 2016-2017 budget. The budget reflected revenues of $894,559 and expected expenditures of $811,808, for a surplus of $82,571. The recreation department, which had been losing tens of thousands of dollars each year, will lose $1636.

West Pelzer Town Council approved final reading on their 2016-17 budget of $395,954 General Fund budget with some discussion on recreation and the fall festival..

Williamston Town Council tabled second reading on the 2016-17 budget and approved several zoning related items and a resolution requesting help to fix a road problem on Minor Street. Just before addressing the budget, Council also went into executive session to receive legal advice from the town attorney related to a recommendation for last minute changes in the budget. Upon returning to open session, a vote on the budget was tabled after Mayor Mack Durham expressed concerns about last minute changes which he said had been presented to him that afternoon.

Council also heard concerns from Matt Johnson, a resident of Gatewood Subdivision, about the Williamston Youth Academy facility being located on Williams Street which was followed by a presentation of information by representatives of the faciltiy.

Josh Smith, Director of Special Projects and Operations and Wes Mason, CEO of Meridian Behavioral Health Systems both spoke on the facility.

June 22 – School District One Superintendent David Havird said that Anderson District One has lost several million dollars in funding since the state enacted ACT 388 in 2007 to provide property tax relief. Havird said growing school districts throughout the state are being penalized by the formula state legislators came up with for property tax relief which was supposed to be made up with the one cent sales tax.

June 29 – The Town of Williamston hosted their annual Freedom Celebration and Fireworks event with music, food, a cruise-in and fireworks show.

Rachel Wyatt of Piedmont, competing as Miss Clemson, was crowned Miss South Carolina in Columbia. The 21-year-old is a graduate of Wren High School and attends Clemson University.

Brooklyn Brewster of Williamston won the Miss SC Teen Talent preliminary with a baton routine. Competing as Miss Anderson County Teen, she finished in the top 10 out of 62 contestants in the Miss SC Teen pageant.

The Town of Williamston passed a budget, following a special called meeting and a budget work session held by the Council on separate days. There was discussion of an administrative position that was vacated several months earlier and other budget changes which were proposed and incorporated into the final budget ordinance, regarding several programs proposed by Envision Williamston.

The Anderson School District One building program continued to move along with projects and upgrades throughout the district including construction on an eight room addition to Concrete Primary, Palmetto High and Wren High School Auditoriums seeing upgrades, Powdersville Elementary, Palmetto Middle and the District Office getting roof repairs, floor repairs at Spearman Elementary, Powdersville Middle, West Pelzer Elementary and Concrete Elementary. District wide work includes painting and asphalt repair.

Palmetto High is also getting a sewer lift station. Most of the projects are being funded by the local Option Sales Tax.

The Williamston Fire Department and community held funeral services for former Fire Chief and resident Tommy W. Walker, 89. The Williamston Fire Department also lost another fellow fireman, LaDane Baker, who passed away on May 14. He served at the Williamston Fire Department for 35 years and was a Captainwith the Williamston Police Department for eight years.


July 6 – Work on the new Duke Lee Steam Combined Cycle Facility is well underway along with an ash removal project. Both projects are approximately thirty-five percent complete and the new facility is scheduled to be online by the end of 2017. The combined cycle technology uses natural gas, and is extremely efficient, using more than twice as much of the fuel expended in the older single cycle turbine, Duke officials said.

July 13 – After a ten month long planning project conducted in conjunction with Arnett Muldrow and Associates, and approval of funding in the town budget, the Envision Williamston program is ready to launch several new projects including regional billboards, an Adopt a Rest Stop program to place benches throughout town and an electronic sign.

Williamston Town Council approved $10,000 in funding for an infrastructure review plan on the needs of the water system.

Pelzer Town Council heard an update from the Friends of Pelzer non-profit orgnization and agreed to allow rental of a building renovated by the group to the VFW of Anderson. They also recognized Shelby Stanton, Skip Watkins and B. J. Tompkins for their longtime service to the town.

Harry Marchant, who established Friends of Pelzer in 2007, presented information on the status and finances of the organization.

July 20 – The Williamston Springwater Committee announced that “classic country artist” T. G.. Sheppard would headline entertainment for the 35th annual Spring Water Festival in August.

West Pelzer Town Council held a special called meeting to consider possible means of purchasing the old NAPA store at 30 Main Street. In addition to the $95,000 asking price, Mayor Sanders projected an additional cost of $100 – $160,000 in improvements, including roofing, HVAC, and electrical issues. The building will also have to be ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant. Paving of the parking lot will solve the ADA compliance issue for the existing park.

The Town of Williamston Public Works Department was extremely busy repairing 12 leaks in the towns water system over a ten day period including repair of a major leak in an 8 inch line on East Main Street. According to Public Works Director David Rogers, the line, which is one of the town’s main water supply lines, was put in in 1938.

July 27 – The West Pelzer Police Department is being trained and qualified to administer naloxone, an antidote to opiate overdoses. Scott Stoller, with Anderson County’s EMS and special operations division, who also works with the WPPD, helped train the department as well as Greenville city and county police forces, the Charleston department, Columbia and the USC campus police force.

A sidewalk construction project in the vicinity of the three Powdersville schools was delayed when major drainage issues caused SCDOT to raise their estimated cost from $250,000 to $650,000. School District One said they were unable to assume the additional amount of the matching funds.

The Anderson School District One Board approved twenty policy changes ranging from school bus safety, food and sales and snack vending to health education and homeless students. The policy revisions had been considered by the board for several months.

The focal point of a Williamston Town Council work session was a DHEC consent order resulting from problems with the town’s wastewater treatment system. Conditions that will have to be met before the order is vacated include a timely reporting of any further events, the production of a financial plan showing how the wastewater collection system would be financed and operated, a sewer inspection and cleaning program, manhole inspections, a sewer use and grease ordinance among others. A fine of $7200 was also imposed.

The Palmetto Business Association (former GWBA) held their second Party in the Park event featuring music by T. J. Lazer and the New Detroits and the TKO Band, local food vendors and free activities for kids.


Aug. 3 – A bare quorum of Williamston Town Council approved several board appointments, changes in the election ordinance and zoning fees and amended mobile home regulations. Council also heard reports on the Spring Water Festival, Envision Williamston and Police Department.

Aug. 10 – Pelzer Mayor Steve McGregor started the meeting with a belated “Happy Birthday” greeting. The one year anniversary of the town’s annexation to include the upper and lower mill villages was July 18. Since then town officials have been in the process of evaluating the town’s operations and meeting the needs of residents and there was some discussion about establishing a police department or police protection provided through West Pelzer.

Williamston Town Council unanimously approved a Letter of Conditions for a $1.576 million USDA loan for radio read meters. The project includes purchasing and installing 2415 new meters.

An emerging spirit of cooperation between the towns of Pelzer and West Pelzer continued as the West Pelzer town council approved a resolution authorizing a joint application for a hometown economic development grant.

Aug. 17 – Chris Alexander an

nounced that he is running for the Williamston Town Council Ward 4 seat.

Palmetto High math teacher Justin Wingard was named the District One Teacher of the Year at the school opening kick-off meeting held at Palmetto High.

A ladder truck obtained from the City of Greenville Fire Department is being repainted and will be in service with the Piedmont Fire Department later in the fall.

No one filed to challenge Piedmont Public Service District Commissioners Lib Pack or Rudy Rhodes for their seats.

A joint meeting of the Pelzer and West Pelzer town councils took place. The unusual meeting was held to discuss the possibility of the town of West Pelzer expanding its police services to include Pelzer. The meeting was conducted entirely in executive session, ostensibly because it involved a discussion of contractual matters, one of the permitted uses of an executive session under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act. That executive session exemption was challenged by the The Journal in this case, based on several factors.

Aug. 24 – The Spring Water Festival hosted a Mineral Spring Trail Walk sponsored by AnMed Health, Envision Williamston and The Journal to highlight the new walking trail along Beaverdam Creek.

Pelzer Town Council began indepth discussions on services the town wants or needs and how to pay for them. Top on the list is providing police protection and how to pay for it. There was discussion about establishing a millage rate for a tax base.

Williamston Town Council approved the purchase of two tracts of property that will allow the town to make improvements related to economic development. The purchase of the properties at 209 Mauldin Street and 526 West Main Street were recommended in the town’s Community Master Plan which was completed last year. According to Mayor Mack Durham the properties will give the town two pieces of property for right of way to extend Cherokee Road to West Main Street, creating a four way intersection at Prince St.

The creation of a new town hall and police department moved one step closer during a special called meeting of the West Pelzer Town Council in which they gave first reading approval for the issuance of a general obligation bond in the amount of $139,000 for the project.

Aug. 31 – For the first time in South Carolina history, a Facility Dog has been used to assist during live trial testimony in a courtroom.

Roma, the first courthouse Facility Dog in South Carolina, made her debut in the courtroom recently when she accompanied a witness as she testified on the stand. The Honorable J. Cordell Maddox ruled in favor of the State’s motion made by Assistant Solicitor Lauren Price to allow Roma to assist in the trial against Robert Joe Frost. Frost was being tried on charges of murder, attempted murder, first degree burglary, armed robbery, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

The West Pelzer Town Council held second reading on an ordinance issuing a general obligation bond in the amount of $139,000. The bond will be used, along with other funds, to purchase and upgrade the former NAPA auto parts store with the intention of transforming it into a hub for the town’s official functions. In addition to the $95,000 asking price, Sanders projected an additional cost of $100 – $160,000 in improvements, to include roofing, HVAC, and electrical issues.

Anderson School District One announced building plans for new tennis courts at Powdersville and Wren High Schools, a new Weight Room and Locker Room Facility at Wren High, and a new Multi-Purpose Athletic building at Palmetto High.

The Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard a brief report on the opening of school, approved course offerings for the new school year and approved a construction bid for a classroom addition at Concrete Primary School.

The Board also received a building plan update and heard a preliminary plan for upgrades at two of the district’s oldest schools, Palmetto and Wren Middle.

Superintendent David Havird presented replacement plans for Palmetto Middle and Wren Middle school buildings which are two of the oldest buildings in the district. Both schools were new high schools when they were originally constructed in 1953 and 1951.

Under the proposed plan, construction of two new schools will take place at the current school campuses while present facilities continue to be used. Portions of both structures will be retained, including gyms and auditoriums.

Once the new construction is completed, the old parts will be demolished and removed.

Organizers of the 35th Annual Spring Water Festival said they were pleased with the event and that it was one of the smoothest running festivals they have had.

Thousands of people showed up for the two day festival that included more than 40 craft vendors, more than 60 non-profit and business displays, children’s games and rides and all day entertainment. Vendors reported a steady day of visitors and shoppers.


Sept. 7 – Anderson School District One saw a decrease on ACT scores . The overall score for 2016 was reported as 19.3 for Anderson One which was below last year’s score of 22.3. Anderson One’s 19.3 beat the state average of 18.5. Students tested English, Mathematics, Reading and Science

The Fourth Annual Homesteading Festival was held at Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park. Hosted by SC Organization for Organic Living and the Town of Williamston, the festival is sponsored by the Palmetto Farmers Market.

Sept. 14 – West Pelzer Town Council voted unanimously to issue a general obligation bond in an amount not to exceed $139,000, to be used to purchase the old NAPA auto parts store.

South Greenville Fire Commissioner William M. “Billy” Campbell passed away.

Pelzer Town Council heard comments and addressed questions from citizens during about half of their regular monthly meeting. Most of the other half was discussion on planning and budgeting for providing services. Town Attorney Jimmy King and former administrator Skip Watkins have been in the process of obtaining data from the county for calculations for budgeting including setting a millage rate and costs for services.

Williamston Town Council heard an update on Envision Williamston projects and grants, set fees for zoning variances, approved four mutual aid agreements and new operating guidelines for the fire department. Council also approved more stringent rules for mobile homes that are approved for locating in the town.

Miss South Carolina Rachel Wyatt took First Runner-Up honors in the Miss America 2017 Pageant held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Sept. 21 – The Pelzer Heritage Commission, Town of Pelzer and Pelzer Church of God held the Pelzer Fall Festival with fun rides for the kids, a puppet show, games and prizes, crafts and more.

A leak in one of the largest gasoline supply pipelines in the country caused some supply concerns locally but no real problems.

The Bonnes Amies Club unveiled a historical marker at Rose Hill Cemetery in Piedmont.

Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor announced the Williamston Police Department is cracking down on suspected drug dealers and drug houses in the town.

Sept. 28 – The South Carolina State Department of Education released scores for WorkKeys, a skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop and retain a quality workforce. 93.6 percent of all 11th graders in Anderson School District One received a National Career Readiness Certificate that identifies them as “work ready” by earning platinum, gold, silver and bronze.

Former Anderson District One School Board member, James Givens Carpenter was killed as he crossed Hwy. 17 in the Wren area when he was struck by a vehicle driven by a Wren student.

Anderson School District One Board of Trustees approved an agreement for insurance that will save the district money, and chose delegates to attend the state School Board Delegate Assembly later this year.

Superintendent David Havird said the insurance change will save the district approximately $100,000.

Following the defeat of the proposed Anderson County hospitality tax, the Dolly Cooper Park in Powdersville was closed.

District Six Councilman Ken Waters, who sponsored the tax proposal, said the failure of the Council to pass the tax had left him with no more ideas to fund the further development of the forty or so acres along the banks of the Saluda River.

Pelzer Town Council held a citizens’ workshop informal gathering that allowed the citizens and the council members to exchange ideas and information. The good news was that the meeting was

both cordial and productive. The bad news was only seven citizens attended. While police protection was a key issue, fire protection was also discussed; in particular the antiquity of the majority of the town’s fire hydrants.


Oct. 5 – The Pelzer Homecoming Reunion was held at the Pelzer Gym that included historic presentations and a Historical Marker dedication ceremony.

A special event held during the homecoming was the dedication of a historic marker recognizing the historic Pelzer school. The project was sponsored by the Pelzer Heritage Commission. The marker was erected by the Maintenance Department of Anderson School District One.

Williamston Town Council approved final reading on an ordinance which establishes rules, regulations and standard operating procedures for the fire department.

SC Governor Nikki Haley issued an executive order declaring a State of Emergency and asked residents to prepare for a potential evacuation of the South Carolina coast in advance of any impact from Hurricane Matthew.

At the request of the Governor Greenville County Schools provided at least 280 buses and drivers to assist with evacuations from the coast.

Oct. 12 – Pelzer Town Council heard an update on financial planning for a tax base for added services and received legal advice on their first ordinance, dealing with mobile homes in the town.

A meeting was held in the Pelzer Community Building with the representatives of businesses, churches and homes which are in a newly proposed Historic District of the Town of Pelzer. Streets included in the proposed district are Lebby, Reed, Courtney, Smythe, Square and Anderson. Ehren Foley of the South Carolina Department of History & Archives in Columbia presented information and answered questions.

Work was underway on a kayak and canoe launch and adjoining land access at the Timmerman Boat Ramp in Pelzer. The project is funded by a $99,500 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation Water Resources Fund and will be in full compliance with the American Disabilities Act.

Palmetto Middle School students joined thousands of students and others across the upstate wearing superhero shirts or costumes to honor Jacob Hall, the six year old who died from injuries he received in a shooting at Townville Elementary School the week before.

Oc.t 19 – The West Allen Williams Heritage and Old Time Music Festival was held in the Artory. The event was sponsored by the Palmetto Area Cultural Arts Center with history displays, live music and food.

Representatives of the State Preservation Office of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History were in Pelzer to provide information on the establishment of a historic district in the old mill village of Pelzer.

Brad Sauls, Supervisor of Survey, Registration & Grants and Ehren Foley, Ph. D, National Register Historian & Historical Marker Coordinator, spoke to members of the Pelzer Historic Commission and several property owners who are to be included in the proposed historic district.

The proposed district includes properties on Lebby Street, Reed Street, Smyth Street to Anderson, portion of Anderson Street and Square St. The district also includes the dam and power house and some mill structures.

Oct. 26 – Pelzer Town Council, town employees and the town attorney gathered to continue construction of the newly formed town government. The main element discussed, debated and tweaked was the town’s employee handbook, which establishes many of the town’s policies. The rough draft crafted will be proposed as a resolution at the November Council meeting.

Anderson School District One Board of Trustees recognized students from across the district who had a perfect score on new testing, held first reading on new overtime requirements and discussed school safety during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday.

The Board also announced that they will honor former coach and administrator Dale Martin by naming the Palmetto High Football Field for him.

The Town of West Pelzer held their annual Fall Festival – The Great WestFest Pumpkinpalooza, on Saturday, October 29 on Main Street in West Pelzer. The event was free and open to everyone due to the Hospitality Tax collected by the town and funding through Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson.

Pelzer and West Pelzer were awarded a joint Hometown Economic Development grant by the Municipal Association of South Carolina. The two towns, due to their proximity and the inextricable nature of their business districts, elected to share the grant, and split the ten per cent match evenly, with each town paying $1250.

The $25,000 grant will be used to conduct an economic impact analysis of potential businesses along the Lebby and Main Street corridors.


Nov. 2 – Members of the Town of Williamston Planning Commission met with Chip Bentley of the Appalachian Council of Governments (ACOG) to review and begin work on a Comprehensive Plan for the town.

According to event organizers, Boo in the Park was “the best ever.” A number of attractions including great fall weather may have brought out more people.

Envision Williamston and the Town of Williamston were selected as the recipients of two grant awards for economic development initiatives. The first was a $25,000 Hometown Economic Development Grant awarded by the Municipal Association of South Carolina. Innovate Anderson, a public/private economic development organization, awarded $10,000 to match the town’s investment for a Main Street Challenge to incentivize new businesses into vacant storefronts in town.

Methodist clergyman Samuel Lander II (1833-1904) was selected as the 2016 Hall of Fame Class with the Anderson County Museum (ACM.) Lander founded the Williamston Female Academy in 1873 which eventually moved to Greenwood to become Lander University.

Nov. 9 – The Pelzer Heritage Commission held a public meeting to provide information about a revised analysis of the brownfield clean-up project of the Overlook Park Parcel at the old Pelzer Mill dump site. The original analysis was revised to reflect new terrain information, to meet permitting requirements of SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC); and to incorporate new climate change considerations.

On the state and local level, there were few, if any surprises, in the general election, in part because so many candidates, especially at the county level, were unopposed incumbents. In Anderson County, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the Presidential race, by a count of 56,109 to 21,040.

Trump went go on to receive 304 electoral college votes, more than enough to win the Presidency.

Williamston Ward 4 Incumbent Councilman Otis Scott and challenger Chris Alexander, will be in a runoff election Nov. 22 for the seat.

With no challengers, incumbent Mayor Mack Durham and incumbent Councilman David Harvell were easily reelected to their seats.

After competing in the state championship cross country meet in Columbia, the Palmetto Lady Mustang Cross Country team and the Powdersville Boys Cross Country team both brought home their first State 3-A titles.

Both Wren teams were among the best five in the State 4-A meet. Woodmont boys finshed seventh in 5-A competition.

A M60 A1 Army tank located in Williamston’s Veterans Park was restored to original paint and marking specs of the equipment. Gordon Ponsford, of Ponsford Ltd. in Georgia, was in charge of the restore. A week later it had already been vandalized with scratches.

Auditors Andrew Coleman and Ken Meadows of the auditing firm of Greene Finney and Horton reported The Town of Williamston had received an “unmodified opinion” which is “the best it can receive.” Meadows said the General Fund balance had increased by $179,000, the Water Fund was in good financial shape and Sewer Fund had a positive unrestricted balance. The town’s fund balance is now at $2,193,000.

Williamston Town Council recognized Palmetto High swimmer Tal Davis. Davis holds eleven South Carolina state swimming records and has received numerous other swimming related awards.

Davis had recently won the 2016 AAA State Championships in the 200 meter individual medley swimming competition and in the 500 meter freestyle swimming competitions. He qualified and competed in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, and was a 2016 Speedo Junior Nationals multi-event finalist.

Kala Brown, the Anderson woman who survived being chained inside a storage container for two months, has connections to the Piedmont, Wren area.

Brown attended Wren High School as a teen.

She and her boyfriend shared an apartment in Anderson when they disappeared in late August. Brown was found alive on property near Woodruff owned by Upstate real estate agent, Todd Christopher Kohlhepp. Her boyfriend’s body was later found on the same property.

Nov. 16 – Bill Jeanes and Roger Scott reluctantly had truckloads of fill dirt dumped into the Pelzer Pool which they purchased from the Town of Pelzer approxiamtely two years ago. Due to DHEC regulations the pool had to be put back in service as a public pool or closed.

Former Anderson School District One Football Coach and Administrator Dale Martin was recognized during halftime ceremonies of the Palmetto Mustang vs. Pendleton 3A playoff game. Anderson School District One Board of Trustees had recently announced that the Palmetto High Football Field was to be named in honor of Martin.

Pelzer Town Council adopted a new employee handbook for the town.

West Pelzer Town Council agreed to repair one of the town’s police cars which had reached the state of being unsafe to drive, even after councilman Jimmy Jeanes opposed spending the almost $1700 for repairs. They also voted to increase the budget line item for repairs and maintenance in the water/sewer department’s budget

Nov. 23 – The Town of Williamston lost a popular employee with the sudden passing of Bruce Peterson. Peterson passed away at his home of natural causes.

Nov. 30 -The Mill Town Players acclaimed production of Of Mice and Men won most of the first place awards at the annual South Carolina Theatre Association Community Theatre Festival in Charleston.

The team will go on to represent South Carolina in the Southeastern Theatre Conference Community Theatre Festival in Lexington, KY, in March where they will compete against nine other Southeastern states.

Williamston voters chose a new councilmember to serve on the Ward 4 seat, electing Chris Alexander in the runoff election with Otis Scott.

Envision Williamston unveiled a downtown beautificationproject to help beautify the Downtown Historic Corridor of the town. The first of 12 sites planned as part of the “Adopt a Rest Stop” program was created with private funds provided by Ace Hardware and the generous donation of time and talent from Ragsdale’s Decks.

Dec. 7 – Rachel Wyatt, 1st Runner Up in the Miss America Pageant and 2016 Miss South Carolina will be the Grand Marshal for the Piedmont Christmas Parade.

Heather Holcombe, municipal clerk for the Town of Pelzer was among five officials who graduated from the Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC) Municipal Clerks and Treasurers Institute, a three-year program that provides municipal clerks and treasurers with the skills critical to their profession.

The last grandchild of Williamston Female College founder Rev. Samuel Lander died peacefully at the Renaissance retirement center in Due West. Margaret Lander Scheibler was 104.

Priority Ambulance, a national company headquartered in East Tennessee, announced its intention to acquire Medshore Ambulance Service, which provides emergency and nonemergency medical transport services in Williamston, Anderson County and to more than 100,000 patients in South Carolina each year.

The Town of West Pelzer was the recipeint of The Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Grant program. The program provides “seed funds” to support vibrancy initiatives in communities across the Upstate region. West Pelzer will receive $5,000 for their Expand Your Wings bird appreciation project.

Greene, Finney and Horton Auditor Ken Meadows reported to the District One School Board last week that the District received an “Unmodified Opinion” which is “the best opinion the school district can receive.”

According to Meadows, highlights from the audit showed the General Fund Balance increased by $2.7 million to $14.1 million. The Local Option Sales Tax generated $6.8 million for the district. Of that, $1.3 million went to Debt Service and $5.5 million Capital Projects.

Dec. 14 – West Pelzer Town Council authorized negotiations on the town’s garbage services contract and approving the preliminary stages of the renovations on the old NAPA auto parts store for a new municipal center.

Pelzer Town Officials continued the process of looking at providing current and new services for a new town and exploring establishing a tax base to pay for them.

Representatives of the town’s sewer treatment provider Renewable Water Resources (REWA) presented information and offered to do a feasibility study on the town’s sytem to see what options are available. Graham Rich, of REWA, offered to have REWA evaluate the possibility of taking over portions or all system maintenance for the town’s sewer if it was a win for both Pelzer and REWA.

The Palmetto Area Cultural Arts Center (PACAC) hosted its third annual Christmas Dinner Theater Fundraiser featuring Philip Cheney in a one-man show with dinner music provided by Clint Davis.

Dec. 21 – Anderson County and State officials joined representatives of Techtronic Industries (TTI), a global leader in the design, manufacturing and marketing of quality consumer, professional and industrial products announced it is expanding operations in Anderson County with a $75 million investment that is expected to create 250 new jobs in the Upstate over the next several years.

Anderson County’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.2% in October to 3.6% in November, according to a report released by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW). Anderson County is tied with Berkeley and Dorchester counties for the 7th-lowest unemployment rate among the 46 South Carolina counties. Anderson County’s employment has increased by more than 2,200 over the last twelve months.