Looking Back at 2018…


    The following news items are from the second half of 2018 as covered in the pages of The Journal:
    Aug. 1 – All four members of Williamston Town Council were present for a brief work session in which Mayor Pro-Tem Tony Hagood presided. Mayor Mack Durham was not present. Among items discussed were second reading on an ordinance addressing setback guidelines, discretionary accounts for each ward and projects requests not being followed up on.
    Pelzer Town Council voted to adopt a series of county ordinances as their own. The vote was conditional and tentative, in light of information presented by Town Attorney Jimmy King. The absence of a municipal court, and the inability to fund one, left the council with few options; with the main one being to adopt county ordinances verbatim and let the

    county enforce them. Pelzer Mayor Roger Scott said county officials including Administrator Rusty Burns and County Attorney Leon Harmon agreed verbally to assume all responsibility for enforcement of the adopted ordinances, as well as collecting and administering all fines. The County Administrator did not share that recollection.
    The Town of Williamston hosted a Party in the Park event featuring the Eric Scott band.
    Aug. 8 – Williamston Town Council heard reports from department heads and approved first reading on a setback ordinance. Spring Water Festival Chairman David Meade thanked the Council for the town’s support and invited the mayor and council to the opening ceremony.
    Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall announced that Envision Williamston is in the process of setting up a mobile phone app. The mobile app will be a digital guide to historic downtown Williamston and will include a business listing, digital version of the new walking tour and more. EW is working with the PBA on coordinated Economic Development with the Main Street Challenge.
    Documents showed Pelzer and West Pelzer were on the “fast track” to consolidation, which was slowed down when both town attorneys raised serious concerns about the speed with which things were moving.
    Williamston officials were working with the Anderson County Transportation Committee and their engineering firm Bunnell Lammons Engineering (BLECorp.) to get the repair work on Minor Street completed soon. Unfortunately, with just over two weeks until the start of school, it appeared the project won’t be completed by the first day of school.
    West Pelzer Town Council denied a request for a zoning variance for a mobile home park and approved a request by the police department to sell two decommissioned patrol vehicles.
    The West Pelzer Planning Commission recommended the town not approve three requests for variances for a mobile home park in the town owned by Jerry and Beverly Atkins.
    Zoning Commission Chair David Odom said the commission unanimously agreed that the town’s current ordinance is there to improve the town and a variance in the ordinance would not be in the best interest of the future of the town.
    Keith Wilson had a huge tree in his front yard struck by lightning. The strike ripped off a three inch strip of bark, approximately 30 feet down the side of the tree. There was a hole approximately one foot in diameter at the base of the tree where the lightning entered the ground. Several visible scorch paths could be seen where the lightning went out into the yard.

    Aug. 15 – The West Pelzer Police Department made a number of arrests involving fairly large quantities of methamphetamine. West Pelzer Police Chief Chris Brewer said the department confiscated approximately 130 grams of meth in various incidents, most on traffic stops on Hwy. 8.
    Local officials are reminding the public that back to school traffic and Spring Water traffic flows will be affected by the Minor Street situation.
    Pelzer Town Council voted to adopt a block of Anderson County ordinances governing such matters as manufactured homes and parks; litter; junkyards and open storage; and weeds and rank vegetation. The various ordinances all fall under the category of the county’s building codes and regulations, including unfit dwellings. As usual, the public hearing turned into a town hall forum, with members of the audience making complaints about specific situations, as well as expressing concerns about just how strictly the laws would be enforced, and the nature of the charges.
    Students and teachers, including Lisa Houston, returned to the classroom.
    Another focus group meeting concerning the Piedmont dam and footbridge was held. A variety of interested parties attended, including Greenville Councilman Lynn Ballard, ENEL representative Beth Harris, Ty Houck and Matt Schell of Greenville and Anderson County recreations departments, Richard Greer of State Investors and Larry Webb of KDS Properties. Representing the Piedmont Public Service District were PFD Chief Tracy Wallace and Craig Lawless. Key items of discussion continued to center around ownership of the footbridge as well as the placement of the proposed kayak launch.
    Aug . 22 – The 37th Annual Spring Water Festival was held in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park. The Carolina Coast Band with Rhonda McDaniel, ten time and current CBGMA Female Vocalist of the Year, and Georgia singer/songwriter Thomas Fountain headlined the entertainment. The festival also included performances by 13 artists on the Gospel music stage.
    The effects of a dispute over the ownership of several business locations in West Pelzer, and the actions to be taken by the town council as a result, led to a special called meeting of the West Pelzer Town Council. The special called meeting was held to receive legal advice from town attorney Carey Murphy regarding council member liability. After returning from the executive session, which lasted approximately 45 minutes, council entertained a motion to correct the address of a business license for Mill Town Tattoo, to 22 Main St., Councilmember Vicky Farmer abstained from the vote due to a conflict of interest, as an owner of one of the properties involved.
    Aug. 29 – No one officially signed up to run for the Williamston Town Council Ward 1 and Ward 2 seats in November. Councilmembers Tony Hagood and Rockey Burgess will run as write-in candidates.
    Anderson School District One saw an increase of 58 students for the opening of school and were expecting that number to double. District One Superintendent Robbie Binnicker reported that the first day and week of school went very well. A new traffic pattern at Powdersville helped tremendously in that area and in Williamston, drivers made adjustments for the Minor Street closure.
    The Anderson School District One Board gave approval to develop a request for proposals for pre-construction phase services, new construction, additions and renovations phase services for the planned building program. Superintendent Robbie Binnicker said the approval will allow the architect to begin working with a construction management crew on two middle school projects. Replacement plans for Palmetto and Wren Middle school buildings were announced in August of 2016.
    Anderson School District One teachers and administrators celebrated the first day back at the annual kick off meeting at Wren High School. Tamara Cox, Librarian at Wren High, was named the Anderson School District One Teacher of the Year.
    Sept. 5 – Richard Greer, of Upstate Investors, said that steps taken by the Town of Pelzer to enable county enforcement of certain ordinances shows a commitment by the town towards change, and that he and possible investors are very encouraged.
    Greer has also served as a consultant and advisor to the town in recent months.
    Anderson School District One students performed well on the third year of the SC Ready (ELA and math) and SCPASS (science and social studies) state assessment testing. They also did well with online testing.
    Williamston Town Council is taking a second look at changes to the town’s rear setback limits for Multi-Family Residential construction.
    The 6th Annual Homesteading Festival was held in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park. The event is free to the public. Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, organizers said. The event featured live music, draft vendors, homesteading classes, demonstrations and a food truck rodeo.
    During the West Pelzer Town Council meeting, Preston Shipman raised the issue of his dispute over a business license issued by the town. Council, including Councilwoman Farmer, listened silently, and then proceeded to the next agenda item, which was the acceptance of two bids on defunct police cruisers.
    West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders announced that the Third Annual Mile Long Yard Sale will be held Oct. 6 and a new event, Mistletoe on Main will be held Nov. 10. He also reported that last year, locally sponsored events attracted fifteen thousand people to the town.
    Sept. 12 – State Investors confirmed their purchase of the old J. P. Stevens plant in Piedmont. The purchase gives the company properties in or near all three area towns located along the river in what some call the Saluda Valley. Developer Richard Greer told The Journal that the properties owned by the development company will be included in an overall project that will be known as Saluda Falls.
    The Piedmont segment will be largely residential, with apartments in the old mill building, and with walking trails and green space.
    West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders made an appearance before the Pelzer Town Council requesting the Pelzer council to consider renaming Stewart Street because West Pelzer also has a street by the same name, which is causing confusion and problems with emergency responders and utility services.
    Pelzer Councilman Eddie Waits reported repairs and renovations on the Pelzer gym have been completed and continued with requests for additional remodeling and refurbishing projects including the community building where he recommended duplicating the covered entrance and additional lighting and an ADA compliant deck. The cost will be covered by the remaining funds from a 2015 PARD grant that funded the work on the main entrance. Waits also asked the council to consider adding security lights under the picnic shelter and enclosing the wiring.
    Williamston Town Council tabled second reading on changes to the town’s zoning ordinances and approved funding up to $5000 for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast event planned in January.
    Sept. 10 – Sixteen year old Megan Wetherald of Pelzer will represent the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Greenville at the Shriners hospitals for Children Open, an official PGA Tour event in Las Vegas in November. Megan was chosen as one of 22 patient ambassadors throughout the country to represent the hospital network at the tournament.
    Soon to be retired state representative Joshua Putnam was hired as Palmetto Family’s new President, making him the fourth leader since its creation in 1993. Putnam was elected in 2011 to represent House District 10, becoming one of the youngest elected to the SC House.
    Sept. 26 – A meeting of the Piedmont focus group included two key items, the planning and building of a kayak dock and portage and the restoration of the footbridge across the top of the dam.
    ENEL, the energy company that owns and operates the dam and the power generating plant, announced that company attorneys had established their ownership of the footbridge. According to the announcement, the company indicated a willingness to divest itself of the bridge for one dollar.
    Anderson School District One Board members heard a report on district test scores, chose delegates for the delegate assembly later this year and head a presentation on the architectural designs for new Palmetto Middle and Wren middle Schools. District One Finance Director Travis Thomas reported that Anderson took in $2,167,000 from the Local Option Sales Tax in June. District One received 31 percent of that, or $674,942 in August. Of that, $134,988 went to property tax relief and $539,954 went to capital projects fund. The fund balance has $2,459,000 in it, Thomas said.
    The School Board got their first look at preliminary architectural designs for the two new District One middle schools.The two designs are very similar and construction will be in two phases for Palmetto Middle and three phases for Wren Middle. Plans are for a bond referendum to be presented to the public in 2019.
    Williamston Town Council held a brief workshop meeting. Mayor Mack Durham reported that the auditors would present the audit results, which Durham said were favorable, at the next meeting of council. He also mentioned that an ongoing zoning issue, concerned with different figures for setbacks, resulted from a typographical error in the ordinance. Roger Dickson updated council on a promotional website and database that the town is considering. The database would expand the town’s scope beyond just reaching concert goers.
    Oct. 3 – Caroline Community Center will hold a fundraiser event that will include a kids zone, car show and live music.
    Envision Williamston invited all area residents and businesses to participate in the Annual Scarecrow Decorating Contest.
    A live music event will be held in the renovated Municipal Center Auditorium featuring Southern Country Gospel music by Jason Crabb.
    Anderson County Deputies arrested a Myrtle Beach man in connection with five armed robberies in Anderson County including the Williamston and Powdersville area. During a traffic stop; in Anderson, Deputies identified Jessie Edwin Holt who was a suspect in multiple armed robberies in Anderson County.
    Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall reported that the Adopt A Rest Stop program was nearing completion with 15 rest stops locations. The project, which was funded through grants and the private sector with 20 community partners, had budget of $33,000, of which the town had only the expense of $2900 on the pocket park on West Main.
    The Envision Williamston Facade Grant program had an investment of $217,000 by 28 business/property owners with $46,000 in grants being awarded through the Appalachian Regional Council (ARC) The project is to improve business or commercial properties in the town. Three gateway projects are also underway.
    Art students at Palmetto High School, under teacher Gregg Davis, are working on the third EW mural, which will be placed on the wall of Friendly’s Barbershop on Greenville Drive.
    Ken Meadows of Green, Finney Accounting Firm reported that the Town of Williamston received an “Unmodified Opinion” which is the best it can get” and had no management letter issues. He said the General Fund and Water Fund are in “very good condition” and that the Sewer Fund “Is in adequate condition.”
    Meadows did recommend the town begin developing a long range plan, such as a five year plan for capital expenditures and related funding.
    Williamston Town Council unanimously approved second reading on amendments to the zoning ordinance changing the setback limits and approved a resolution authorizing recovery of debt due for utilities to be collected by the state from a tax refund if the debtor is getting a state tax refund.
    West Pelzer Town Council approved a resolution recognizing the week of Oct. 7-13 as Fire Prevention week, accepted information on FOIA fees and approved a Hazard Mitigation Plan with Anderson County Emergency Preparedness.
    Oct. 10 – Several local agencies participating in the South Carolina law Enforcement Officer NARCAN (LEO) Program including Anderson County EMS, Greenville County Sheriff’s Dept. and West Pelzer Police Dept. were recognized by the Governor for providing NARCAN Opioid overdose training across the state.
    Sergeant Scott Stoller of the West Pelzer Police Department was among those recognized at the 2018 SC Governor’s Opioid Summit hosted by the Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS).
    Pelzer Mayor Roger Scott announced that the town was not going to honor a request by West Pelzer to rename Stewart Street in Pelzer. Town Council also discussed work on the community building, park hours, rentals in the community building and narrow streets. A bid of $4500 was approved for the work which includes repairing soffit.. The last project will allow the town to close out the 2015 PARD grant that paid for the work.
    The Pelzer Crimewatch Program provided 160 hotdog plates to officers and employees of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, County Dispatch, and other departments. Members of the White Plains and Piedmont Crime Watch groups and Pelzer Town Council also helped.
    Oct. 17 – A team of amateur South Carolina golfers won the inaugural Watson Cup Competition played at Kiawah Island. One member of that eight man team, which defeated their Scottish visitors, was Logan Hawkins, a sixteen year old golfer from Palmetto High School.
    Richard Greer, representative of State Investors development corporation, presented his company’s plan for the development of the area along the river in the downtown area of Piedmont to the Piedmont public Service Commission. The project, which Greer said is pretty well fixed, will include from fifty to sixty townhouses contained in six different buildings. The plan refers to them as apartments. Greer explained that the textile rehabilitation credits received require that the properties produce income for the first three years.
    Oct. 24 -West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders in one of seven South Carolina mayors to be awarded the Joseph Riley Fellowship, a product of the national Mayors Institute on City Design. The program, the only one in the country, is intended to encourage planning and focused development in towns and cities. Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, Jr. founded the program.
    Williamston native, Staff Sgt. Ross Alewine, has been selected as 1 of 500 competitors to participate in the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, Australia.
    The Invictus Games, established by Prince Harry in 2014, brings together wounded and injured veterans from 18 nations to compete in 11 adaptive sporting events, including track and field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, swimming, sitting volleyball and golf.
    Tiger Paw Martial Arts Academy in Williamston celebrated 44 years. Sensei Michael Logan received his eighth degree black belt at the start of the Tiger Paw United States Southern Challenge, which is their 8th Invitational karate Tournament. The event was held in the Piedmont Community Building.
    The fifth annual West Allen Williams Heritage and Old Time Music Festival was held in the Williamston Municipal Center Auditorium. It features local history displays, live music and free admission.
    Oct. 31 – For the first time, all three high school bands in Anderson School District One, Palmetto, Wren and Powdersville High, placed first in separate band competitions.
    Williamston Town Council approved second reading on a debt setoff ordinance, heard and EMS update from Medshore Ambulance Service and department updates. Sherrie Cole announced that the annual Christmas Parade will be held Dec. 8 at 3 p.m.. There was brief discussion about changing the route next year to include Greenville Drive.
    The Anderson School District One Board heard about a new report card grading system that replaces Every Child Left Behind Act, approved a construction manager for a new building program and recognized District One Band Leaders.
    They also held first reading on new and revised board policies including two related to content and credit recovery and one on non-discrimination/equal opportunity.
    Following an executive session lasting approximately 40 minutes, the board returned to open session and unanimously approved Harper Construction to act as the Construction manager at Risk for the new District One building program.
    It was announced that Will Ragland will serve as Grand marshal of the Piedmont Christmas parade, organized by the Bonnes Amies Club of Piedmont. The club also decorated the bridge over the Saluda River with garland and 100 bows.
    Artist Andy Gambrell’s Studio, located in a white metal building behind his house in West Pelzer, was a part of the Greenville Open Studios Tour. Gambrell was one of 143 artists featured in the self guided tour.
    Former Williamston attorney Philip E. Williams was sentenced after he pled guilty in “US District Court to one count of mail fraud. Counts two and three were dismissed by a motion of the United States records show. Williams was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay restitution of $343,042.42.
    West Pelzer Town Council discussed nuisance animals, leaf and limb pickup and a new sign ordinance. They also recognized area Veterans and approved a proclamation recognizing West Pelzer as a Purple Heart City.
    Both Williamston Town Council incumbents Tony Hagood and Rockey Burgess retained their seats on council. Both were running as write-in candidates.
    Nov. 14 – The Town of Pelzer held their Old Fashion Christmas market at the historic Pelzer Gym. There were indoor and outdoor vendors including local artisans, handmade crafts, candles, jewelry, gifts, home decor and more.
    The SC Theater Association held their 52 Annual Convention at Anderson University. Mill Town Players was named State Winner in the Community Theater Festival with their production of Romeo and Juliet. They will represent SC and compete against the rest of the Southeast at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Knoxville, TN in Feb. (2019).
    Palmetto High won 10th place for their production of Yoo-hoo and Hank Williams and All-Star Cast Awards for Jacob Hensley and Chloe Burnett.
    Woodmont High won 8th place for Medea, as well as Best Ensemble and All Star Cast Awards for Grace Hayes and Maddy Fiema.
    Powdersville High was recognized with All Star Cast Awards for Aimee Larson and Jacob Gardner for their production of The Yellow Boat.
    Pelzer Mayor Roger Scott reported that security lights were installed under the shelter in the Monkey Park by Terry Davis and they are still there and still working. Council approved an allocation of $1200 to the Mill Town Players theater group that will go toward the purchase of a new sign.
    Nov. 21 – The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant and were seeking the where abouts of an individual wanted for murder in the death of Jose Alfredo Martinez Jimenez who was found deceased in a Williamston driveway.
    Former state legislator and Wren area resident Dan Cooper was named the Chief of Staff for the President of Tri County Technical College. The move came in advance of Dr. Booth’s retirement next summer.
    Opening night ceremonies and lighting of the Christmas Park was held in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park. There was special holiday music and visiting with Santa in the Scout Hut.
    Nov. 28 – Three new “Welcome to Williamston” Gateway signs were completed by Envision Williamston, with finishing touched including plants, irrigation, paint, lettering and lighting. The signs were also decorated for the holiday season.
    Another Envision Williamston mural, entitled “Mineral Waters: Then and Now”, is placed on the side of Friendly’s Barbershop on Greenville Dr. Palmetto High art students Kerrigan Campbell and Rebecca Stephen, along with teacher Gregg Davis, painted the design by Heather Dowell.
    The Anderson School District One Board of Trustees began their meeting with the swearing in of recently elected members, including one new board member. Newly elected member Wendy Burgess joined Pat Cox, Nancy Upton and Melissa Hood, who were all returned to their seats on the school board, in taking their oath of office.
    The Piedmont Neighborhood Crime Watch group hosted a meeting attended by sheriffs of both Anderson and Greenville Counties. Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride and Greenville County Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown both spoke at the meeting. The West Pelzer/ Pelzer Christmas parade was rained out.
    Dec. 5 – Council approved a resolution recognizing the Palmetto High School Cheerleaders, who recently won the AAAA State Championship, and they watched a video of the performance. Council also approved second reading on a lease agreement for MedShore Ambulance Service for use of the EMS building on Anderson Drive, a resolution for easements for a sewer project and agreed to provide a fifty percent match for an ARC Economic Development Grant.
    West Pelzer Town Council held a short worksession to discuss a new sign ordinance, before approving second reading on the ordinance later in the regular council meeting. Mayor Sanders said nonconforming signs, already in place but not allowed by the new ordinance, will be allowed to stay unless there is renovation work of 50 percent or more of the appraised value of the property.
    Anderson School District One is pleased with the state report cards released for their 14 schools: 7 Excellent schools, 4 Good and 2 Average. In the first year of a new accountability system, the schools did well. Four elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school rated Excellent.
    Powdersville Elementary, under Principal Brad Moore, earned one of the highest Excellent ratings in the state.
    The Palmetto Business Association held its 5th annual Christmas banquet at the Saluda River Grill in Piedmont. The event was attended by approximately 80 people representing a variety of businesses in Williamston and the surrounding area.
    Dec. 12 – The Williamston Theater, which hosted movies and entertainment since it was built in the 1940s, was torn town. Several people, including the owner, watched the work throughout the day.
    Dec. 19 – Tamara Cox, librarian at Wren High School who was named District One Teacher of the Year, was among ten winners of the prestigious “I Love My Librarian Award”, the American Library Association announced. Recipients were chosen from more than 1,000 nominations from library users nationwide who submitted applications that showcased how their local librarians have profoundly improved lives within their community.
    Dec. 26 – The year ended quietly and the area prepared for a new year.
    The Clemson Tigers won their playoff game defeating the fighting Irish of Notre Dame and will play the Alabama Crimson Tide for the National Championship Title on January 7.
    Happy New Year!