Looking Back at 2019 . . . Part 2

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Looking Back 2019 . . .  Part 1

The following highlights are from the page of The Journal July through December 2019:

July 3 -Powdersville High’s Leslie Martin was named the 2019 South Carolina History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
The Anderson School District One Board heard an update on the building program, approved five policy changes including three related to providing a drug and alcohol free workplace, tobacco and alternative nicotine use and enforcement.
District One Superintendent of Education Jane Harrison was recognized for recently receiving the SCASA 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Town of Pelzer launched its master plan process, with a series of round table discussions and elected officials of the town escorting the paid consultants from MKSK around town acquainting them with the various features and points of interest.July 10 – Jon Shoffstall was named principal at Wren Middle School and Kevin Williams was named Assistant Principal at Powdersville Middle and Concrete Primary.
With Mayor Roger Scott presiding, Pelzer Town Council discussed problems with paint at the gym, dumping on town property, the old Pelzer Hospital and added two more  days of police protection.It was Mayor Scott’s secondmeeting in which he presided since he experienced health problem around the first of the year.

The Town of Williamston sponsored a Party in the Park event with beach music by the Tams. The event was held at the ballfields.
Alexis Eliopoulos was sworn in as West Pelzer Chief of Police. Mayor Blake Sanders said he believes Eliopoulos is the first female police chief in Anderson County, and may be the youngest in South Carolina history.
Williamston Town Council approved several new ordinances and heard a final report from their Envision Williamston Executive Director, Sonya Crandall. Crandall updated projects and made some final policy recommendations.
Council also approved a plaque honoring Jean Taylor to be placed on the wooden bridge in the Mineral Spring Park.
July 17 – Discount merchandise retailer Fred’s is closing stores throughout the Southeast and two local stores are among those on the list. The Williamston and Belton Fred’s locations are scheduled to be closed soon. The Piedmont store was on a store closure list released in May.
July 24 – Work continues on the Minor Street bridge replacement project with templates for the new bridge put into place and Duke Energy relocating some power lines. Foundation pylons are ready to be driven amd followed by concrete being poured and slabs put in place.
Renewable Water Resources (ReWa) entered into a strategic partnership with Anderson County officials to manage and maintain sewer service and wastewater treatment operations for 1,100 customers in the county’s northeastern corridor.
July 31 – The Town of West Pelzer’s GRAND Gallery opened featuring work by Artist, Designer and Educator David Gerhard.
The Anderson School District One Board heard an update on the bond sale and building program, approved second reading on policy related to a drug and alcohol free workplace, tobacco and alternative nicotine use and enforcement and first reading on student absenses and work makeup requirements.
The Board also heard a presentation by a former District One Principal, Dr. Mason Gary on a book he has written about the Freshman Academy at Palmetto High School, which he oversaw as principal of the school.
In a work session, Williamston Town Council discussed matching funds for several grants including a SCDOT sidewalk project and paving funds from the Anderson County Transportation Committee for culvert repairs, amounting to $350,000 with a ten per cent match by the town.
Pelzer Town Council member Olene Bear announced her intention to vacate her Council seat at the end of the year.
SCDOT issued a Notice of Default on the contractor for the SC Hwy. 20 bridge deck replacement over the Norfolk Southern and CSX Railroads in Piedmont.
AUGUST
Aug. 7 – Envision Williamston recently announced winners of the Main Street Challenge grant program for 2019, Travis McCurly “Brew N Q” and Kristy Johnston “Phoenix: Born Again Retail”.
West Pelzer Town Council authorized the purchase of a new police vehicle and an $8000 PARD grant made available through the Anderson County Legislative Delegation.Council also approved a resolution to accept an $8000 PARD grant provided through the Anderson County Legislative Delegation with help of Sen. Mike Gambrell and Dist. 9 Rep. Anne Thayer. The grant requires matching funds from the town and will be used for a cleanup project on the old town hall jail located behind Chapman Park.
Williamston Town Council approved second reading on ordinances addressing duties of the town attorney and standing committees of the town, and approved matching grant funding for two grants .
Aug. 14 – ProActive Response Bleed Kit saves local teacher’s life
In the fall of 2018, Anderson County District One Schools made what turned out to be a lifesaving investment. They gave every employee the opportunity to take part in Active Shooter Response Training from ProActive Response Group. This training saved the life of Clayton Porter, a teacher in District One, who was alone in his garage when the electric saw he was using kicked back and sliced open his left thigh. While bleeding profusely, Porter was able to contact his wife who called 911. The training included instruction on how to stop massive bleeding.
A rough draft of the Pelzer Master Plan was presented to a small crowd of perhaps fifteen people.  The draft identified four themes to focus on including building a new legacy centering on the town’s historic sites; recognize and celebrate the presence and importance of the Saluda River; emphasze the town’s heritage and history and restore some of the town’s iconic features and foster investment in the town.
Pelzer Town Council discussed a variety of issues with citizens, approved a resolution to accept a $5000 PARD grant and allocated $500 to the West Pelzer Fire Department for AED equipment. They also approved a resolution certifying that the Pelzer Mill properties were once the site of textile manufacturing.
Approximately thirty five people attended a public meeting held at the West Pelzer municipal center about the proposed county road fee.
Aug. 21 – Jared Fricks, Chorus Teacher at Palmetto High School was selected the School District One 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year.
For the West Pelzer election, Incumbent Mayor Blake Sanders was the only candidate to sign up for  mayor while Incumbent Jim Riddle and Pat Alexander signed up for the two open seats on council.
In Pelzer, six people signed up for the two council seats that are open for the November election. They were:
Incumbents Eddie Waits and Gary (Garbo) E. Pridmore. former councilman Will Ragland, Margaret Jamison, James David Hatley and Brian E. Haynes.
Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor and the Williamston Police Department hosted the Anderson County Police Chiefs meeting which was also attended by chiefs from across the area. Guest speaker was Lewis J. “Jackie” Swindler, Director of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.
Aug. 28 – School District One had fifth day enrollment of 10,250 students.
The School District One Board recognized two board members, a teacher and heard updates on the start of school and the building program.
Before a parade through downtown Clemson, the famous Budweiser Clydesdales were in the Piercetown community preparing for their appearance in the upstate. Handlers took care of the famous horses at Stone Ridge in the 5 Forks area next to Piercetown.
Organizers of the 38th Annual Spring Water Festival say the event went well with a great turnout, even though a light mist was falling early Saturday morning. Angela Walker and her band Powerglide from Washington DC
headlined entertainment.
West Pelzer Elementary was on high alert due to a suspect fleeing a traffic stop in West Pelzer. Following a traffic stop on Main Street by the West Pelzer Police Department, the suspect vehicle fled resulting in a wreck on Dendy Street. The suspect then fled on foot into a wooded area and was immediately apprehended.
SEPTEMBER
Sept. 4 – Divers with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Evidence Recovery Team responded to the Saluda River in Pelzer concerning a vehicle under water after a kayaker observed the sunken vehicle and reported it to the ACSO. Divers recovered a vehicle stolen from the area in 2015.
West Pelzer Town Council may have had their shortest meeting ever as Council heard brief updates and information on a firearms safety program being offered through the West Pelzer Police Department. Police Chief Alexis Eliopoulos announced that the department had partnered with Project Childsafe to provide free firearm safety kits to local residents.
Sept. 11 – The annual Homesteading Festival was held in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park with homesteading classes, demonstrations, food trucks and live music.
Pelzer Town Council took several actions, including authorizing the Municipal Association of South Carolina to act as a claimant agency to collect unpaid utility bills for the town.
Approximately fifty people, including Mayor Roger Scott, were on hand to hear the results of a three month planning exercise intended to produce a master plan for Pelzer.
The Town of Williamston now has digital access to the town’s infrastructure information through a new GIS mapping program which can be accessed by cell phone, tablet or computer.
Following a lengthy executive session in which council met with developers regarding a potential residential development in Williamston, Council approved $15,000 in funding for a feasibility study to be done on the project.
Sept. 18 – The Palmetto Business Association recently underwent an IRS audit. Bonnie Meeks of H&R Block and PBA Treasurer Faye Meares spent most of four days last week answering questions and providing documents to the two IRS auditors, who traveled from two different states for the audit.
Sept. 25 – SAT Scores for Anderson School District One decreased from 1062 in 2018 to 1016 in 2019 following a similar decline in the state. The number of test takers increased due to every student in the district being encouraged to take the SAT.
Farmfest in West Pelzer provided an opportunity to meet local farmers, buy local farm products, see live farm animals, touch a tractor, drive a combine simulator, and see craft vendors. The event was held at Chapman Park.
OCTOBER
Oct. 2 – The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office was called to the area of River Road and White Road in Piedmont after a survey crew found possible human remains. The Anderson County Coroner’s Office identified the remains as those of a Piedmont man who had been missing almost a year and said the death appeared to have been the result of a self-inflicted gunshot.
The 2019 state report cards and test scores ranks School District One and its thirteen schools among the best in the state. School District 1 has nine schools rated “excellent,” two rated “good” and two “average.” The district’s graduation rate is nearly 92% compared to the statewide graduation rate of 81%.
Thirty-eight  schools in the Greenville County School district scored Excellent, compared to 20 last year.
The 6th annual West Allen Williams Heritage & Old Time Music Festival was held at the Williamston Municipal Center. The event features local history displays, local musicians performing, elementary school performers, an elementary school essay contest and more.
West Pelzer Town Council recognized several local residents, and themselves. House Representatives West Cox and Anne Thayer presented a resolution recognizing the town’s Centennial Celebration being celebrated during 2019, and the town also recognized District One Teacher of the Year Jared Fricks and resident artist Andy Gambrell.
Williamston Town Council discussed possible changes in the fees charged to use the town’s Municipal Center auditorium, banquet rooms and kitchen and met with members of the planning commission in a discussion with a representative of the Appalachian Council of Governments.
Oct. 9 – The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) announced that a contractor had been retained to complete work on the SC Hwy. 20 bridge deck replacement project over the Norfolk Southern and CSX railroads in Greenville County.  Construction work was to restart in November 2019 and the road to be reopened to traffic by the end of April 2020.
Pelzer Town Council met without Mayor Roger Scott and heard a number of complaints about paving projects completed in the town. They gave final approval to two ordinances; one dealing with the recovery of collection costs related to collection of various fees and payments, and the other which requires accurate street numbers to be placed where they are visible from the street.
Williamston Town Council approved funding and proposals for a downtown development and revitalization initiative and addressed fees for use of the facilities at the Municipal Center.
Council approved a resolution to provide $45,000 in matching funds and proposals for an Appalachian Region Commission (ARC) grant to help with downtown retail revitalization and business recruitment.  As part of the grant, they also approved R.E.D. City Planning to provide a retail and light industry plan for the town at a cost of $43,000 and a residential plan and visitor and resident attraction plan at a cost of $35,000.
Oct. 16 – Anderson County achieved a record-low unemployment rate of 1.7 percent in September 2019.
Ashland Craft, who made the top 10 on The Voice in 2017, returned to the area to perform with her band at the Historic Pelzer Auditorium. Ashland grew up in Piedmont and graduated from Woodmont High.
Oct. 23 – School District One announced that ACT scores ranked them in the top 6 districts in the state with a composite score of 20.0. All three high schools, Palmetto, Powdersville and Wren High, scored above the state average.
Boo in the Park was held in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park.
 Five of the six candidates running for two seats on Pelzer town council were on hand to meet the voters and answer questions at a meet the candidates forum.  Town attorney Jimmy King was the moderator. Margaret Jamison withdrew from the race the next day, saying she did not want to pull votes from another candidate.
Oct. 30 –  A group of local citizens held a TLC benefit for Pelzer Mayor Roger Scott, selling hot dog plates to help with medical expenses.
The Anderson School District One Board recognized 41 students with perfect ACT scores, heard an update on the building program, and authorized the re-funding of bonds that could save the District $3.2 million.
Tony Brown was named the new Executive Director for Envision Williamston.
After more than a year, Minor Street in Williamston is finally open.
Due to the forecast of rain on Halloween, the Great Pumpkinpalooza event was held on Nov. 1 at Chapman Park in West Pelzer. The event included live music, free inflatables, trick or treating, costume contest, food trucks, giveaways and more.
Nov.  6 – Williamston resident Johnny Bell wants to provide a sheltered bus stop for local children. The idea came about when he saw children in his neighborhood standing in the rain as they waited on the school bus one day. Bell has partnered with Ragsdale’s Decks to make it happen.
In the Pelzer election, Will Ragland, who lost his reelection bid in the previous election, was returned to office along with  Incumbent Eddie Waits.
Councilmember Olene Bear announced that she will resign her seat effective the first of the year and the action will necessitate a special election to fill the seat.
In West Pelzer, incumbent Mayor Blake Sanders , along with incumbent Council member James Riddle, Sr., ran unopposed; as did newcomer Patricia Alexander.   Voters in municipal elections across the state, including Pelzer and West Pelzer, were among the first to use the new paper-based Election Systems and Software (ES&S) ExpressVote voting system.
SCDOT reported that construction will resume on the SC Hwy. 20 bridge deck replacement project in Piedmont.
Williamston Town Council heard their annual audit report, were introduced to the new Envision Williamston Executive Director and authorized the purchase of properties on College Drive. Auditor Ken Meadows of Greene, Finney LLP, reported the town received an “Unmodified Opinion”, the best they can get, on their audit.
Investigators with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office investigated two incidents involving horse attacks in Greenville County.
Nov. 13 – WWII Veteran Army nurse Rosemond Kohmstedt attended the Veterans Day program in Williamston. At age 99, Kohmstedt is the oldest living WWII nurse in Anderson County and one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in the Country.
Pelzer Mayor Roger Scott, following months of serious health issues, submitted his resignation to the town council. The resignation is effective at the end of the year, which will allow the special election for mayor to be conducted simultaneously with the special election to fill Councilwoman Olene Bear’s seat. She announced her resignation earlier this year, also effective at the end of the year.
In a brief meeting, West Pelzer Town council approved an ordinance to annex a parcel of land at the request of Anderson School District One. The property includes 19.10 acres which are adjacent to West Pelzer Elementary SchoolChief Eliopoulos reported the police department had received a new patrol vehicle and it is now functional on the road.
Nov. 20 – Houston-based Stage Stores Inc. announced that it plans to transition all stores, including Goody’s, to the off-price strategy Gordmans brand.
U.S. Army veteran Bobby Hogan of Piedmont received a new roof from Guy Roofing as part of the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County.
Nov. 27 – The lighting of Mineral Spring Park was held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Christmas Park has been a holiday attraction in the upstate since 1958. Deck the Halls in Williamston’s Municipal Center. The annual event has become a holiday tradition for the town and features beautifully decorated Christmas trees in the main hallways of the Municipal Center.
The 16th annual Fork Shoals Christmas Parade was held.
DECEMBER
Dec. 4 – The Palmetto Business Association elected new officers for 2020. They are President Sam Byler; Vice President Monique Gambrell; Vice President Greg Witul; Vice President Dana Logwood; Secretary Paula Payton; Treasurer Faye Meares. The PBA held their annual Christmas party December 1st at the Saluda River Grill in Piedmont with entertainment, door prizes, food and Christmas cheer.
Williamston Town Council heard two community safety presentations by local students, approved purchase of two properties and heard about plans for a fundraiser balloon festival. Council also heard a report from new Envision Williamston Executive Director Tony Brown.
Members of the Sparks LEGO League of Palmetto Elementary School presented information on an innovative solution they recommended for improved safety at two crosswalk areas on Main Street.  Both areas have had people hit by a vehicle.
Envision Williamston announced they are accepting applications for the Main Street Challenge grant program for a new or prospective business opportunity in Williamston. Two grants were awarded earlier this year, but one, Brew & Que, withdrew from the offer.
Longtime Pelzer Town Attorney Jimmy King announced he is retiring after serving the town for thirty years.
Pelzer Town Council set the rate for renting the gym at twenty dollars an hour, with the proviso that an extra hour be included for set up and cleanup. Town clerk Cheryl Boudreau announced that the special election to fill the Mayor’s position, as well as a Council seat being vacated by Olene Bear would be held on March 31.
Coldwell Banker Caine and Coldwell Banker Commercial Caine announced a new partnership to manage the sales and marketing of Piedmont Village, a residential and commercial community in Piedmont. Red Oak Developers had the vision to revitalize this charming historic mill village into a thriving neighborhood featuring over 60 townhomes and single family residences as well as 25,000 SF of commercial space. Development is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2020. The development is part of the Saluda Falls  projects undertaken by State Investors and Richard Greer.
Dec. 18 – Area residents readied for Christmas and New Year.