By Stan Welch
Williamston resident Mark Powell received a mixed reception from the Anderson County Legislative Delegation at their semi-annual meeting Thursday night (June 26).
During the portion of the meeting where vacancies on various boards and commissions are filled, Representative Anne Thayer nominated Powell for the Social Services Board. He was narrowly elected to one of two seats open.
Later in the meeting, during public comments, Powell leveled accusations against the delegation, the county transportation department and the SCDOT, concerning the plan to modify the median/turn lane in front of the AmCan Trucking facility on Webb Road.
Powell, who became aware of the proposal while serving on the Anderson County Transportation Committee (ACTC), which approved the $192,000 project, alleged that the highway commissioner for the area, Eddie Adams, proposed the project to accommodate former state representative Michael D. Thompson.
Thompson’s family owned the trucking firm and the property when Thompson served in the legislature. He delayed a request for such an improvement to avoid the appearance of impropriety, but more than a decade later, claims Powell, after leaving the General Assembly, Thompson activated the good old boy system.
Powell claimed that the safety issue raised in pursuing the lane widening was false and pointed out that no accidents have occurred at the truck yard, which is on the same road as the Carolina Auto Auction site further along the road.
Powell described all sorts of obfuscation and back room deals, citing his efforts to obtain information under the FOIA. He rambled on about a series of roads that he said should be state roads that were county roads, or county roads that should be state roads.
He told the delegation that they should all use “company phones” and electronic devices, instead of private ones; and that every item that crossed those devices should have to be stored forever in case anyone ever wanted access to them.
Finally Rep. Brian White, sitting in for Chairman Mike Gambrell, managed to stop Powell. “I take great offense at you hurling accusations at delegation members. Let me say, I had that project done. A constituent called me and asked me to look into the idea and I did. That is my District and Eddie Adams is the District’s highway commissioner. We rode out and looked at the site and I asked that it be done.”
“Michael Thompson had nothing to do with this. There was no good old boys club involved. This constituent is not just a truck driver, he’s also in the convenience store business. He drives a fuel truck from one of his stores to the other. In two years, he probably pays more in taxes than this project cost. So I did accommodate him and I see nothing wrong with it. I would do it again.”
Powell continued to chide and accuse White of abusing his power until another delegation member asked to move on with the evening’s agenda.
In other business, the delegation reviewed and ultimately approved the budgets for the Anderson County School Board, the alternative school, the fire commission and the career center.
Anderson School District One and Two Career and Technology Center Director Dr. Jerry Kirkley reported that the school has almost doubled its enrollment since it opened in 2000 but has not raised the millage that supports it. Enrollment last year was 2000.
He also said that the adult education center being operated in the old Pelzer Elementary School building is expected to have more than 100 students in its first graduating class.