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Cash for Clunkers Ends, New Program Begins

     The "Cash for Clunkers" program ends at 8 p.m. Monday, but a new program funded by the automotive industry will offer up to $4,500 on new and used vehicles. For details on this program visit their site.


Don't Dissolve School Dist. 5 (opinion)


Newspring to Hold Anniversary at BiLo Center

     Newspring Church has announced it has rented the BiLo Center in Greenville to celebrate the church's tenth anniversary on Jan. 24, 2010. More than 15,000 are expected to attend the celebration.

     Newspring currently has campuses in Anderson, Greenville and Florence. A Columbia campus will open in September. Buses will bring in members from the Florence and Columbia campuses for the event.


Spring Water Festival This Weekend

      Saturday’s Williamston Spring Water Festival will mark the 28th year with live entertainment including Mac Arnold & Plate Full of Blues, children's activities, auto show, crafts fair, exhibits and food booths. A 1/2 mile fun run and a 4-mile Spring Water Run on a certified course. For more information visit


For other weekend events, click here.


Council OKs Legal Fees After Walkout

By Greg Wilson

     Anderson County Council approved the payment of legal fees and reimbursement of legal bills Tuesday night in spite of a maneuver by a pair of council members aimed at preventing the vote.
      A pair of votes, both of which eventually passed by a 3-2 vote,
were marked by delays and confusion after two council members recused themselves and two others walked out of the council chambers in opposition to the issues going to a vote.
      The first resolution asked the county to pay fees for previous work by the Tallon Group, Inc., and Palmetto Investigating and Consulting. The second requested the payment of legal expenses incurred by Bob Waldrep stemming from early legal battles with former Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston.
      After council members Bob Waldrep and Eddie Moore recused themselves from both votes, questions were raised by council members Gracie Floyd and Ron Wilson over the resolutions. After a series of questions, Wilson announced he would simply leave the room to deny the body a quorum because "what you're doing here is just wrong." Floyd followed Wilson from the chambers, leaving the remaining three council members to seek the a ruling from Anderson County Attorney Mike Pitts as to how to proceed.
      Following a brief recess, Pitts said a quorum could be established if the the councilmen who recused themselves were in the room, even if they did not vote. Both resolutions were then passed 3-2.

      In other business council unanimously:

  • Passed a resolution endorsing the Upstate's Roundtable long-range infrastructure planning for a five-county area.
  • Approved a resolution to honor Anderson native Jim Ed Rice by renaming the Civic Center road "Balloonfest Blvd" to "Jim Ed Rice Parkway."
  • Endorsed the county abandonment of Goldmine Road.
  • Accepted Spring Brook Subdivision Phase II into the county road system.
  • Approved, on second reading, the tax-break agreement between Anderson County and Orian Rugs.

     The following requests were also submitted and approved by the council.
Ron Wilson: $5,000 for the Tri-County Soccer Club in the Wren area.
Tom Allen: $4,500 for the Townville Recreation Department; $3,000 to the Anderson Veterans Association for their carillon project; $2,000 to the New Light Community Center; $485 for a bike rack system for Pendleton.
Gracie Floyd: $10,000 to the Broadway Lake Fire Department Fund.
Bob Waldrep: $900 for bike rack system for Civic Center.
Cindy Wilson: $3,000 to the Honea Path Fire Department; $1,000 to the Anderson County Veterans Association carillon fund; $2,000 to the Honea Path free clinic; $5,000 to the Honea Path Recreation Program; $485 for bike rack for Honea Path; $500 for a sign for the Broadway Fire Department on Old Williamston Road.
Eddie Moore: $485 for back rack system for the Starr walking track.
Tommy Dunn: $485 for bike rack system for Wellington Ball Park.


The Three-District Proposal Map


Standing Room Only at School Board Meeting


A standing room only crowd of well over 500 crowded into the Anderson County Library for the Anderson County Board of Education's release of the Strom Thurmond Institute report on consolidating Anderson County School Districts

     The night before students returned to the classroom in Anderson County, a large and loud crowd packed into the Anderson County Library Monday night for the presentation of a sponsored study recommending the potential consolidation of Anderson County School Districts.

     As reported in The Anderson Observer last month, "Options for Multi-district Counties, The View from Anderson County, South Carolina," by Clemson University's Strom Thurmond Institute for Government and Public Affairs, offers a proposal suggesting that a three-school district plan is the best fit for Anderson County.

     It was a conclusion which met a chilly, but vocal reception, from the standing room only crowd.

     Meanwhile, the Anderson Board of Education, said the presentation of the report was in no way an endorsement of consolidating school districts, but simply the putting forth of options which would benefit all the students of Anderson County.

     "This is not about saving money," said Mike Gray, a member of the Anderson County Board of Education. "This is about the best way to education all the children of Anderson County, to make sure that every child in the county has the same opportunities and resources for a quality education."

     But the three-district plan, which would essentially cut the current Anderson School District 5 in half, was responsible for most of the questions and comments following the presentation. Why some method of sharing of resources was not the primary recommendation of the study on the agenda for those who had read the study.

     "I find it option 3 (the three-district plan) offensive," said Mack Burris, Chairman of the District Five Board of Trustees. Burris said the visionary programs in Dist. 5 were visionary and took years of hard work. "Some people just want these programs handed over to them."

     Paul Talmadge, another member of the District 5 board of trustees, while commending the Anderson Board of Education, suggested that vision, leadership and commitment would make for better schools, not a "simplistic" formula attempting to equalize enrollment and money in each district. Quoting liberally from sections throughout the report, Talmadge said consolidation is not a "magic formula" for improving schools and said Dist. 5 had been a countywide leader in education and should not be dismantled.

     "Killing the goose that laid the golden egg is not the way to reach your goal," Talmadge said.

     Betty Bagley, superintendent of Anderson County School District 5, said that meaningful education in the county needed to come from the leadership of the superintendents of the districts and their trustees.

     "Give the five superintendents and the five boards the chance, give us the time and we will bring a proposal that will provide educational opportunities to all the students of Anderson County," Bagley said.Anderson School District 4 Superintendent Lee D'Andrea agreed.

     "We can work together, to share resources, to use the technology available, to find a way to meet the goal," D'Andrea said. "Sharing is a better answer, a better solution."

     Holley Ulbrich, lead researcher for the report, opened the presentation by saying the study was commissioned "to identify ways to ensure equal access to a quality 21st-century education for all of Anderson County's children at a reasonable cost." (download summary of the report here). Outlining changes to the county since the current school district lines were drawn in 1952, the report outlined five options for meeting the stated goal: Consolidation/Redistricting; Centralization and Decentralization; Tax Base Sharing; Service Sharing; and the Do Nothing, or status quo option.

     Most of Ulbrich's presentation focused on the first option of consolidation/redistricting. The study examined the potential for one, two and three school districts for Anderson County, with the three district model, "tweaked every 10 years or so."

     The full study, first reported here, was released following the meeting. The report concludes redistricting into three school districts would "most efficiently meet" the stated goals of the study. But it also notes other options which involve sharing of services, authority, tax base and/or resources would be "the most challenging to implement, but also has the greatest potential for creating schools and districts that are truly both local and equal.

     The recommendations of the study will be reviewed by a Anderson Board of Education commitee. The commitee will make recommendations to the full board. If a recommendation is made to make substantial changes, such as consolidation of districts, a referendum will allow votes to decide.


School Meeting at 5 p.m., STI Report at 6 p.m.

     The regular meeting of the Anderson County Board of Education will be at 5 p.m. today at the Anderson County Library, followed by the official presentation of the report on realigning the county's school districts from Clemson University's Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs. The report, "Options for Multi-district Counties, The View From Anderson County, South Carolina," outlines in great detail the case for reorganizing the county's schools and recommends three districts as the best fit for Anderson County.


News Briefs

     The Anderson County Board of Education will meet at 5 p.m. today at the Anderson County Library. Details of the meeting are here.

     Anderson County public school students return to class tomorrow for the beginning of the 2009-2010 school. It will be a full day of classes.

     Anderson County Council meets tomorrow night at the council chambers at 6 p.m.

     The Anderson Observer will talk about the Wednesday launch of our new 24/7 newspaper Tuesday morning on WRIX 103.1 FM.


Tour De La France to Help Cancer Association

     A new event offers a new way to ride into the Labor Day weekend this year and help the Cancer Anderson County Spokesperson Angie Stringer, holds up the yellow Tour De La France jersey, as Interim Administrator Rusty Burns looks on at Friday's press event.Association of Anderson. On Sept. 5, the "Tour De La France" will offer a 13.74-mile trek, which begins at 8 a.m. at La France Elementary School, and a mini-ride of 1.8 miles for beginners and chidren, which begins at the Great Escape and ends at the Anderson County Farmer's Market. Electric City Transit will provide transportation back to the school or the Great Escape.

"We are really pleased to be a part of this event," said Rusty Burns, interim administrator of Anderson County. "The Cancer Association of Anderson is an orgazination that is near and dear to my heart. The work they do is very meaningful and cannot be duplicated."

As part of the event, a Bike Rodeo will also be held at the Great Escape with free bike helment fittings and free helmets while supplies last.

The bike event is also aimed at raising awareness for the Anderson County, City of Anderson Complete Streets Program. The complete streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind - including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

Sponsors for the event include Cancer Association of Anderson, City of Anderson, Anderson County, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the Great Escape, the Complete Streets program, Safe Kids of Anderson County, Imagine Anderson, the Anderson County Farmer's Market,La France Elementary School and the Mayor's Committee on Disability.


Merging School Districts Report to be Presented Monday

     On Monday night, authors of a study by the Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs, will provide details of their research and recommend a three-district option as the best fit for Anderson County. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Anderson County Library. The public is invited.

      As first reported in The Anderson Observer, "Options for Multi-district Counties, The View From Anderson County, South Carolina," outlines in great detail the case for reorganizing the county's schools into three districts instead of the current five. The $58,000 study, commissioned by the Anderson County Board of Education, was commissioned in 2007 to discover "the best ways to equalize educational opportunities for the county's public school students."

      The report concludes that three school districts, instead of the current five, would provide "more nearly equal student population, assessed value per pupil, and growth potential in order to achieve a more uniform allocation of resources across the districts."

     More details on the report can be found in our original story here.


Dist. 5 Names Teacher of Year

     Chad Allen, a seventh grade science teacher at Southwood Middle School, was named 2009-2010 TeacherChad Allen of the Year for Anderson School District Five at the district’s Back-to-School Celebration held Thursday at the T.L. Hanna High School Gymnasium.

     Mr. Allen is beginning his sixth year as a teacher, and has spent his entire career at Southwood. He is a graduate of T.L. Hanna High School. Mr. Allen succeeds Anne Harder, an English teacher at T.L. Hanna, as the district’s newest Teacher of the Year.

    The other finalists for District Teacher of the Year were Renee Brissey of McCants Middle School and Judy Woodard of Whitehall Elementary School.

     District Employees of the Year were also named at Thursday’s event. They are as follows: Adult Education, Wilhelmina Rhoe; Custodial, Harriet Martin of Varennes Academy of Communications and Technology; Food Service, Cornelia Smith of Whitehall Elementary School; Maintenance, Dwight Sutherland; Instructional Support, Ann Berry of Lakeside Middle School; Non-Instructional Support, Gail Wells of New Prospect Elementary School; and Transportation, Rosa Maxwell.

      The Teachers of the Year as named by individual schools are as follows: Robin Bracken, Calhoun Academy of the Arts; Gretchen Skelton, Centerville Elementary; Laurie Miller, Concord Elementary; Teresa Kinert, Homeland Park Elementary; Perry Howard, McLees Elementary; Veronica Davidson, Midway Elementary School of Science and Engineering; Felecia Lucas, Nevitt Forest Community School of Innovation; Anna Patterson, New Prospect Elementary; Sylvia Fowler, South Fant Early Childhood and Education Center; Candace Maddox, Varennes Academy of Communications and Technology; Hedrick Lewis, West Market Early Childhood and Education Center; Judy Woodard, Whitehall Elementary; Linda Hagen, Lakeside Middle School; Renee Brissey, McCants Middle School; Chad Allen, Southwood Middle School; Richard Morand, T.L. Hanna High School; Linda Johnson, Westside High School; and Jonathan Jennings, Hanna-Westside Extension Campus.

     The Adult Education Employee of the Year finalists were Wilhelmina Rhoe, Helen Sablan and JoAnn Vickery.

     The Custodian of the Year finalists were Curtis Harris, Whitehall Elementary School;
Harriet Martin, Varennes Academy of Communications and Technology; Doris Walker, Centerville Elementary School; Sallie Willingham, T.L. Hanna High School; and Charles Young, Nevitt Forest Community School of Innovation.

     The Food Service Employee of the Year finalists were Jane Crocker, Southwood Middle School; Alice McCullough, T.L. Hanna High School; Joyce Parnell, Centerville Elementary School; Cornelia Smith, Whitehall Elementary School; and Kristi Stone, Midway Elementary School of Science and Engineering.

     The Maintenance Employee of the Year finalists were Steve Callaham, Robert Davis, Ray Jensen, James Randolph and Dwight Sutherland.

     The Instructional Support Staff Employee of the Year finalists were Everette Adger, McLees Elementary School; Ann Berry, Lakeside Middle School; Kim Cothran, T.L. Hanna High School; Darron Cowan, McCants Middle School; and Lajuana Jones, Hanna-Westside Extension Campus.

     The Non-Instructional Support Staff Employee of the Year finalists were Sue Cowan, District Five Administrative Office; Melinda Little, T.L. Hanna High School; Leigh Stroud, Calhoun Academy of the Arts; Myra Stroud, Southwood Middle School; and Gail Wells, New Prospect Elementary School.

     The Transportation Employee of the Year finalists were Linda Hawthorne, Linda Kinley, Dwayne Martin, Rosa Maxwell and Irene Shetrompf.


Canning Preserves Tradition, Taste

    See Food section for full story.