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Council Chairman Community Meeting Set for June 13

Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn will hold a community meeting on Thursday, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the Centerville Fire Station. 

Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride will also be in attendance. The meeting will be a chance to hear concerns from citizens, and will include a question and answer session. 


Easley One of Two S.C. Sites to Receive EPA Money

Observer Reports

Easley is home to one of two South Carolina brownfields will receive funding for environmental remediation projects.

The cities of Camden and Easley are each recipients of $300,000 Brownfield Assessment and Cleanup Grants that are issued by the federal government each year. These grants help local governments and stakeholders safely redevelop unused properties, that are contaminated or polluted, into community assets that attract economic growth and opportunity. Camden and Easley are two of 149 locations the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected to receive the funding this year.

“We are excited to receive the news of the grant awards,” said Robert Hodges, DHEC Manager of Brownfields and Dry Cleaning Programs. “Cleaning up and reinvesting in Brownfields properties increases local tax bases and nearby property values, facilitates job growth, takes development pressure off undeveloped, green properties, and both improves and protects the environment. These communities have strong potential for attractive redevelopment and business opportunities. The money provided by these grants, along with the work that will be done under the Federal and State Brownfields Programs, serves as a foundation to generate momentum for revitalization of these beautiful communities.”

The City of Easley also will use its $300,000 grant for environmental site assessments and the development of cleanup plans for a site in the Downtown Easley area. The funding is allocated for planning and design sessions and community outreach activities, as well.

“We are targeting these funds to areas that need them the most,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Approximately 40 percent of the selected recipients are receiving Brownfields grants for the first time, which means we are reaching areas that may have previously been neglected.”

DHEC administers multiple environmental cleanup programs, including the statewide Brownfield Voluntary Cleanup Program, which assists developers in revitalizing South Carolina brownfields. Learn more at


New Fee to Cost Hartwell Lake Dock Owners $835

Observer Reports

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division, will implement a revised administrative fee schedule resulting in a cost of $835 for a dock and land based facilities at its reservoirs and along certain federal waterways in the Southeastern United States. Hartwell Lake is among the areas to which the fee will be added.

Here is a breakdown of the details:

  • The costs include a $35 fee for a Shoreline Permit (under 36 CFR § 327.31) and an $800 administrative fee for the Real Estate License. 
  • Although the fee must be made in a single payment at the beginning of the process, the payment equates to a cost of $13.92/month or $167/year to the permit/license holders over the five-year term of the instruments. 
  • The fair market value fee will no longer be charged. These fees generally ranged from $20-$67 for each land based facility.
  • Any modification request will result in issuance of a new permit/license at the full fee of $835.

This is the first fee increase since 2006, according to the Corps of Engineers website.

The new fee will apply to the following reservoirs and waterways: Okeechobee Waterway, FL.; Allatoona Lake and Lake Sidney Lanier, GA; Walter F. George Lake and West Point Lake on the Georgia-Alabama border; Lake Seminole on the Georgia- Florida border; Hartwell Lake and J. Strom Thurmond Lake on the Georgia-South Carolina border; Philpott Lake, VA; W. Kerr Scott Lake, NC; and John H. Kerr Lake on the North Carolina-Virginia border.

For more information, visit here


World Leaders Pause to Remember D-Day

June 6 (UPI) -- Seventy-five years after more than 150,000 Allied troops descended upon Normandy beaches to liberate German-occupied France, World War II veterans, heads of state and history buffs gathered Thursday for what's perhaps the last major anniversary for living D-Day participants.

The Allied invasion of Normandy -- called Operation Overlord, or D-Day -- was the largest seaborne invasion in history and set the stage for what ultimately proved to be an Allied victory on the Western Front of World War II. Tens of thousands of British, Canadian and U.S. troops arrived at five beachheads in the region either by parachute or through amphibious landings by sea on June 6, 1944, to beat back German troops who had control over much of France.

An emotional ceremony Thursday at Colleville-sur-Mer American Cemetery in Normandy included world leaders and surviving D-Day veterans, many of whom traveled from the United States.

"What resonates still, 75 years later is their incredible courage and generosity," French President Emmanuel Macron said at the event. "The fortitude that carried them toward their destiny. That fortitude that had taken them thousands of miles from home to provide assistance to men and women that they did not know. To free a land they had not set foot on." 

"We know what we owe, to you veterans, our freedom," Macron told a gathering of veterans seated behind him. "On behalf of my nation, I just want to say thank you." 

Historians and military strategists consider D-Day a major turning point in World War II that led to Allied victory more than a year later. Estimates put the casualty figures on both sides of the battle in the thousands.

"The GIs who boarded the landing craft that morning knew that they carried on their shoulders not just the pack of a solider but the fate of the world," President Donald Trump said at Thursday's ceremony. "This beach, code named Omaha, was defended by the Nazis with monstrous firepower, thousands and thousands of mines and spikes so deeply, it was here that tens of thousands of Americans came."

Trump highlighted the bravery of some of the veterans, telling their stories of sacrifice on the battlefield.

"Our debt to you is everlasting. Today we express our undying gratitude," he said. "They enlisted their lives in a great crusade, one of the greatest of all time. Those who fought here won a future for our nation. They won the survival of our civilization."

Monuments and cemeteries honoring the war dead dot the Normandy landscape and each year, and local groups and residents commemorate the the sacrifice Allied troops made to liberate France. Every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan has visited Normandy on the D-Day anniversary to pay tribute to those lost in the battle.

"The bond between our nations was forever sealed in that 'Great Crusade,'" Trump said. "As we honor our shared victory and heritage, we affirm the common values that will unite us long into the future -- freedom, sovereignty, self-determination, the rule of law, and reverence for the rights given to us by almighty God."

Trump was scheduled to meet with Macron after the ceremonies. Later Thursday, the Macron will host a ceremony at the Lorient Marine Riflemen School to pay tribute to Kieffer commandos who participated in the D-Day landings.

For the first time since since World War II, more than 30 Douglas DC-3 and C-47 Skytrain aircraft -- called Dakotas by the British -- flew over Normandy and near Duxford Airfield in Britain this week to pay tribute to the D-Day airmen.

Thursday also included displays of military equipment and vehicles, performances by military bands, parades and prayers all representing Allied nations. The full schedule of events is listed on this D-Day anniversary website.

In the United States, ceremonies, re-enactments, memorials and parades were scheduled in Abilene, Kan., at the Eisenhower Presidential Library; Alexandria, Va.; Bedford, Va.; Louisville, Ky.; Plano, Texas; Media, Pa.; Pittsburgh; Warner Robins, Ga.; and Wheaton, Ill.


Lawmakers Return June 25 to Consider McMaster Vetoes

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina lawmakers are returning to the Capitol before the 2020 session starts in January after all.

Senate President Harvey Peeler and House Speaker Jay Lucas announced Wednesday they will hold what they hope is a one-day special session on June 25.

Lawmakers will consider Gov. Henry McMaster's 28 budget vetoes worth about $41 million and can also consider one other vetoed bill which allowed erasing of a public disorderly conduct charge for first offenders under certain conditions.

In his veto message , McMaster says criminal records can be forgiven, but shouldn't be erased.

McMaster said most of his budget vetoes were requests lawmakers made without saying exactly where the money was going.

Peeler wrote in a letter to senators he expects the special session to last just a day.


Clemson Robots May Help Famers Harvest, Week Fields

BLACKVILLE – The agricultural workforce is shrinking and some Clemson University researchers believe robots may help provide a means to protect America’s food and fiber industries.

Joe Mari Maja, a researcher at Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center, believes unmanned ground vehicles like this one can be used to make harvesting cotton more efficient. Image Credit: Clemson Public Service and Agriculture

A group of them studying the use of robots in agriculture recently met with researchers from other universities and representatives from Clearpath Robotics to learn about programs and hardware that are available to equip robots to work in agricultural crops.

“Robots are becoming more integrated into the manufacturing industry,” said Joe Mari Maja, a research sensor engineer at Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center. “Though most of the manufacturing environment is not as complicated as the outdoor environment, recent advances on sensors and technology provide an interesting outlook on how robots will be working outdoors with humans.”

Using small unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) or mobile ground robots with navigation sensing provides a platform to increase farm management efficiency, Maja said. The platform can be retrofitted with different components to perform specific tasks, such as spraying, scouting, remote-sensing, quantifying plant properties and harvesting.

Maja is studying how to use a robot for selective cotton harvesting and weeding. He and his staff retrofitted a robot with a vacuum-type system with a small storage bin and believes having a robotic cotton harvester would be a great help for cotton farmers.

“The cotton harvester robot was successfully assembled and tested on a field within the first three months of its development,” Maja said. “Several adjustments, calibrations, reconfigurations and tests will be conducted to help us improve this technology so that it can be used.”

The United States is the third largest cotton-producing country in the world, behind India and China. To move ahead of India and China, American cotton farmers must be able to increase production efficiency while reducing labor costs. Using cotton harvesting machines is one way farmers can reduce labor costs and still pick cotton as soon as the bolls open. Robotic cotton harvesters are expected to cost less than traditional farm equipment. Harvesting machines can cost as much as $700,000, compared to an anticipated $4,000 for robotic cotton harvester prototypes.

“It is envisioned that a new UGV will be developed with the prototype for less than $10,000,” Maja said, bringing the total cost of the robotic cotton harvester to about $14,000.

Other researchers agree robots may have a place in agriculture, but these robots must be easy to operate and repair.

“Big machines are getting more difficult to repair,” said John Heun, a University of Arizona precision agriculture engineer. “If robots are open and have schematics that can easily be repaired, I believe they will be more accepted for use in agriculture. The system needs to be open so that they can easily be accessed.”

Edward Barnes of Cotton Incorporated, a collaborator on the Clemson Cotton Robotics project, agrees. The Clemson Cotton Robotics project is funded by Cotton Incorporated and is exploring the development of a mobile robot platform for cotton harvesting.

“Rapid repair and ease of access are important,” Barnes said. “I believe cotton harvest is a potential application for robots, but more research needs to be done. Farmers aren’t computer programmers, so they will need someone to run their computers to operate the robots. There are still some questions that need to be answered.”

In addition to harvesting cotton, Barnes believes robots also will be used to simplify the ginning process.

Using robots to fill the labor gap in agriculture may be what is needed to help provide food and fiber Americans need and help farmers stay productive.

Adam KantrovichClemson Cooperative Extension Service agribusiness professor at the Sandhill Research and Education Center, said there are a number of variables playing a role in the labor shortage, including: age, wages, benefits, work environment and temporary or seasonal employment vs. permanent employment in some agricultural areas.

“It is important to note that farmers are not price-makers,” Kantrovich said. “They must take the price offered for their products by the market. This leaves them with little to no margins in many cases to be able to pay all their bills, including for taxes, for any debts, such as pay the bank for loans, let alone for them to put food on the table.”


Anderson County Council Recap, June 4, 2019


Bridge Over Hartwell at Centerville/Sandy Springs Road Closed

The bridge on Centerville Road over the Twenty-Three Mile Creek section of Harwell Lake between S.C. 187 and Sandy Springs Road. has been temporarily closed due to structural issues. The South Carolina Department Of Transportation is considering repair plans.

The problems were discovered during an inspection of the bridge Monday. No timetable has been established for the reparis and reopening of the bridge.


Anderson County Council Moves Ahead on Unfinished Budget

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

Anderson County Council approved, on second reading, the budget for fiscal year 2019-2020, but made it clear future workshops and investigation is still needed before a final budget is approved.

“We are nowhere near a settling point on the final reading of our budget,” said Anderson County Council Vice Chairman Ray Graham. “But we’ve got to provide services for our citizens.” Graham said meetings with department heads are ongoing as the budget is worked out. 

“We’ve still got a lot way to go,” Graham said.

“It’s not a bad budget, but the one thing I would like to see in this budget more money put into demolition of houses in Anderson that are not livable,” said Anderson County Councilwoman Gracie Floyd. “The only thing they are doing is attracting people we don’t want in our neighborhoods. The (budgeted) $50,000 will not do it for seven districts, that’s not enough money.”

“I think that is a major problem throughout the county,” Graham said. “I think we need to get more information about that.” 

“I foresee having some of these same issues in the Piedmont area and we need to know what to do taking care of these structures,” said Anderson County Councilman Jimmy Davis. 

Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn echoed Graham’s remarks on the unfinished nature of the budget.

“I just want to remind everybody there is a lot more discussion to be done, a lot more information to be gathered before council votes on a final budget,” Dunn said.

Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, suggested there are still areas in the budget that could be revisited to bring in more money. An increase in building and codes fee, which she said were lower than neighboring counties and have not been increased in 13 years, would increase revenue.

“Basically all this is doing is bringing us in line with the market,” said Anderson County Councilman Jimmy Davis. “As it is, out taxpayers are subsidizing some of it.”  

“I think it’s time people pay to play,” Davis said. “If they want to come in and build tract homes in unincorporated areas, they need to pay the county.”

Davis also said the county’s 1,534 miles of roads are in trouble if council does not find money for paving.” 

“We’ve got to pave roads, and we have to find money to do it,” Davis said. “As Council Chairman Dunn has said, If we’d had a hard freeze last winter the county would be facing a catastrophic problem.”

Meanwhile Wilson also said reinstating the ramp fees at the Anderson Regional Airport would also increase revenue, while suggesting the notion of privatizing the airport as part of cost cutting measures be considered.

Also on Tuesday night, council:

Approved the reinstatement of ramp fees to aircraft landing at the Anderson Regional Airport. The fee should generate $72,000 annually in lost fuel revenues. Aircraft which buys fuel at the airport will be exempt from the fee.  

Approved on third reading, another solar project with Southern Current, which will generate $29,043 per year in taxes. The property currently is taxed at $69 annually.


Reminder: Farmers Market Vouchers Available this Week

Now that the official summer market season has kicked off, Anderson County senior citizens may apply for produce vouchers as part of the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for Seniors. The Anderson County Senior Citizens Program and Anderson County, in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Social Services and other state agencies, will issue vouchers to eligible senior citizens. Vouchers can be used to purchase produce at participating farmer’s markets through Oct. 15. Each eligible person will receive $25 worth of coupons. Vouchers are issued on a ‘first come-first serve’ basis until the supply is exhausted. EBT is accepted year-round.

“For the past few years, low-income Senior Citizens across Anderson County have been given the opportunity to supplement their diets with fresh, healthy and local produce by means of the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program,” said Anderson Council Chairman Tommy Dunn. 

“Seniors can apply for these vouchers between June 5-7 at the Iva, Belton and Anderson County Farmers Markets. When residents spend their vouchers at our Farmers Markets, they are supporting our county's farmers and our local economy also gets a healthy boost from those dollars spent. I want to once again, encourage everyone to help us get the word out about this beneficial program and also to remember to support our local farmers at the Anderson County Farmers Market.” 

“Once again, Anderson County Senior Citizens Program is receiving $20,000 worth of vouchers for our seniors & farmers,” said Anderson County Senior Citizens Program Manager Kelly Jo Barnwell. “It is so important that each senior who receives their vouchers, spends their vouchers with our local farmers!! We want everyone in Anderson County to WIN with SFMNP!”

Individuals aged 60 or older, with a low monthly income, or who receive SSI or Food Stamp benefits are eligible for these free coupons. Individuals must apply in person; provide proof of their identity, age and their Anderson County residency. Applicants must also meet household income eligibility limits. Information regarding the income of all household members is required to determine eligibility. Verification of Social Security numbers is also required. 

Individuals wishing to apply for homebound seniors must provide a statement from the senior granting permission to submit an application on their behalf. Proof of identity and proof of income for the homebound senior must be presented at time of application. 

The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program’s goal is to supplement the diets of low-income seniors with fresh, nutritious produce while supporting South Carolina’s small farmers. South Carolina is one of several states that receive funds from the USDA to operate this program.

Application for vouchers will be at the following locations & available first come, first served:

Wednesday, 8 a.m.: Iva Farmers Market

Thursday, 8 a.m.: Belton Farmers Market

Friday, 8 a.m.: Anderson County Farmers Market

For more information about the Senior Voucher program, please contact Anderson County Seniors Program Manager, Kelly Jo Barnwell at 231-2237.


"Get Hooked on Fishing" Event Saturday at Library

Anderson Observer

The Anderson County Library will host "Get Hooked on Fishing," Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon, to mark the launch of a new program to make fishing available to all.The new Green Pond Landing fish "mascot" will make it's pubic debut Saturday at the Anderson County Library.

The event is the kick off of a new program which will allow library card holders to check out fishing poles and tackle boxes at the Anderson, Pendleton, Powdersville, and Lander Memorial (Williamston) libraries.

There will be door prizes and giveaways, a fishing simulator from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, games for kids, water conversation and preservation information.

Also on hand will be Anderson County's own Brian Latimer, the 2019 FLW national champion.

Green Pond Landing's new "mascot," the creation of Anderson artist Shea Abramo, will make its official debut at the event.

The family-friendly event is free and open to the public. 


Anderson County Council Recap, June 4, 2019


Duke Energy Bumps Residential Rates 3.7 Percent

Duke Energy has raised rates for residential customers in South Carolina by 3.7 percent. The new rate went into effect June 1.

The average residential customer will see a monthly increase of around $4.71, according to a release by the company. 

Commercial customers will pay 1.6 percent more for electricity.