Jury Trials Highlight
General Sessions Court
Two jury trials took up much of the time during a two-week term of Saluda County General Sessions Court that concluded last week.
In one trail, Antonio Kenyardo Posey was found guilty of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, 1st degree, and was sentences to 40 years. (That story was featured in last week’s paper.)
In the other trial, John Tyler Padgett was found not guilty on multiple charges, including attempted murder, possession of a fireman by a person previously convicted of a violent felony (two counts), and pointing an presenting a fire arm.
There as on lengthy sentence in the guilty pleas. Robert Michael Whittle Jr. was sentenced to 15 years for criminal sexual conduct with a minor 11-14 years of age, 2nd degree.
The sentences in the other guilty pleas are as follows:
Rocky John Boyd, uses of 911 unlawfully, time served. Treyon Hykeem Butler, burglary 3rd, Youthful Offender Act (YOA) not to exceed five years, suspended to time served and 30 months probation.
Tammy Renee Cash, possession of methamphetamine 1st, 18 months, suspended to time served and 18 months probation. Llewellyn Chapman II, forgery, 90 days, suspended to time served and 18 months probation.
Angela Rose Doto, assault & battery 2nd, time served. Clinton Clay Dukes, burglary 2nd (non-violent), 48 months, suspended to time served and 24 months probation.
Michael Owen Dukes, possession with intent to distribute marijuana 1st, YOA not to exceed five years, suspended to 36 months probation. Trevor Keith Herron, possession of meth, time served/
Devin Gregory Hite, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, YOA not to exceed three years, suspended to 30 months probation. Jason Lamont Johnson, resisting arrest (assaulting, beating or wounding law enforcement officer), five years, upon service of 63 days, suspended to 30 months probation.
Marquis Raphael Lomax, forgery less than $10,000, time served. Michael Dwain Mains, possession of prescription drugs, time served.
Kadisaha Nelson, forgery less than $10,000, 90 days, suspended to time served and 18 months probation. Natalie Nicole Nelson, forgery less than $10,000, 90 days, suspended to time served and 18 months probation.
Marina Lee Olsen, burglary 3rd 1st offense, YOA not to exceed five years, suspended to time served and 36 months probation. Christopher Lee Oswalt, possession of meth 2nd, 60 days, suspended to time served and 36 months probation.
Sheila C. Riddle, child neglect, 18 months, suspended to time served and 18 months probation. Corey Scott Ringer, domestic violence 2nd, 24 months, suspended to time served and 24 months probation.
James Ollie Smith, breaking into an auto, YOA not to exceed three years, suspended to time served and 36 months probation; unlawful carrying of a pistol, YOA not to exceed one years, suspended to time served and 36 months probation. Dyan Cornelius Triplin, burglary 3rd, 24 months, suspended to 90 days and 18 months probation.
Christopher Certerrio Turner, habitual traffic offender, 12 months, suspended to time served and 18 months probation. James Alex Welch, possession of meth 1st, YOA not to exceed three years, suspended to 30 months probation
Jerry Draken Wyndham, petit larceny, time served; harassment, 20 months, suspended to time served and 20 months probation.
FFA Members Attend
Legislators Appreciation Day
Columbia, SC….Eighteen Saluda High School agricultural education students attended the SC FFA-sponsored State Legislators Appreciation Ceremony in Columbia on February 22.
The students were accompanied by Amanda N. Crouch, agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor at Saluda High School, Ben Webb, health/physical education instructor and coach at Saluda High School, and Whitney Moore, guidance counselor at Saluda High School.
The day began with a visit to Representative Cal Forrest. Next, the group talked with Senator Shane Massey in his office building conference room and then moved on to meet with Senator Floyd Nicholson.
The Saluda Chapter then had the special opportunity to talk with our very own, Molly Mitchell Spearman, State Superintendent of Education. Chapter members were interviewed by her for a State Department of Education video and then posed for pictures with her at the front of the Capital.
Next, the group joined with 1000 other FFA members, supporters, and guests for a ceremony on the State House steps where they heard from Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers, and also Chairman of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Committee, David Hiott.
The week of George Wash-ington’s birthday was designated as National FFA Week in 1947 at a National FFA Board of Directors meeting. FFA Week generally runs from Saturday to Saturday, and encompasses February 22, Washington’s birthday.
The FFA positively influences the young people of America by developing character and leadership skills, and preparing members for successful careers. FFA members are the leaders of tomorrow. Through agricultural education and hands-on learning, FFA members are preparing for more than 300 career opportunities in the food, fiber and natural resources industries of agriculture. With more than 610,000 members, the organization has a history of service and a legacy of leadership.
Saluda Woman Dies When Hit
Deer Crashes Through Windshield
A Saluda woman died Fri. evening, Feb. 17, when a deer, hit by another car, crashed into the windshield of the vehicle in which she was riding.
According to Saluda County Coroner Keith Turner, Jennifer Fisher Wertz, 45, of 1913 Fruit Hill Road, died instantly from her injuries.
The wreck happened at 9:35 p.m. Friday along Fruit Hill Road, about 7.3 miles north of Saluda.
A 37-year-old Greenwood man, Dormus Kentrell Baylor, in a 2001 Kia was driving north on Fruit Hill Road, as was Mrs. Werts husband, B.J., in a 1999 Ford pickup truck with Mrs. Wertz and their daughter as passengers, said Trooper Joe Hovis with the S.C. Highway Patrol.
Turner said, the Kia struck a deer, which went over the top of the car and into the passenger side of the Wertz’ pickup truck, which was behind the Kia.
No one else was injured, Hovis said, and both drivers and both passengers were wearing seat belts.
Mrs. Werts was employed by the Saluda County Water and Sewer Authority. Her husband is a coach at Ninety Six High School.
Saluda County Man Sentenced to 40
Years for Sexual Assault of Child
The trial of State v. Antonio K. Posey took place this week in Saluda County General Sessions Court. Posey, age 41, was found guilty of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor – 1st degree and sentenced to forty (40) years of incarceration by Judge Eugene C. Griffith, Jr. following the jury’s verdict of guilty Friday, February 17th.
The Saluda County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation on December 2nd, 2014, when the victim was brought to law enforcement regarding long term sexual abuse by Posey. The victim was assaulted in Saluda County during 2013 and 2014 while she was under the age of eleven. The victim was immediately referred to Palmetto Health Richland Hospital in Columbia for a sexual assault examination in which evidence was collected during the exam and sent to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for forensic analysis.
Agent Paul Meeh of SLED testified regarding the results of his DNA analysis in the case. SLED determined that swabs taken during the child’s sexual assault exam were a DNA match to Posey. The victim, now age 12, testified during the trial regarding numerous sexual assaults committed against her by Posey.
During the sentencing hearing, a letter from the victim was read to Judge Griffith which stated, “I have had nightmares and flashbacks … I don’t want him to do this to anyone else.”
The case was prosecuted by Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes and Assistant Solicitor Sutania Radlein of the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
“We are grateful to Captain Toby Horne and the entire Sheriff’s Office for their commitment to this case. They have worked extensively to assist in the preparation of this trial.” Posey was immediately taken into custody and transferred to the S.C. Department of Corrections.
Video On Solar Farm ·
SCE&G has released a video on the locally, much talked about Saluda Solar Farm on the Johnston Hwy.
According the the company’s Facebook page, “The largest solar farm in South Carolina is now on SCE&G's system. Owned by Cypress Creek Renewables and co-developed by Southern Current in Charleston, the new 6.8-megawatt Saluda Solar Farm houses 31,000 solar panels and can produce enough energy for 1,400 homes. Learn more: sceg.com/solar.”
The video can be found on the SCE&G Facebook page or on YouTube - “Saluda Solar Farm.”
Another solar farm on the Columbia Hwy. is currently under constrution.
Amick Farms CEO Answers
Questions About New Plant
By BEN HARRISON
President and CEO
We at Amick Farms and 3D Corporate Solutions want to thank everyone who came out to the meeting at Saluda High to hear about our proposed facility. There were a lot of good comments and questions. I hope the information we provided helped everyone to better understand our need for this new pet food protein facility and our commitment to doing it the right way.
I also am writing to relay some of the information about SC Pet Food Solutions to those of you who weren’t able to attend the meeting. I’m writing not only as the CEO of Amick Farms, but as a long-time resident of this community.
People have asked me why we need to build this new plant. It’s simple: Amick Farms has to grow and invest to stay competitive in the poultry industry and healthy in Saluda County. That is why we’re partnering with 3D Corporate Solutions to enter the super-premium pet food proteins market; because there is more value in using our chicken co-products for pet food than for other animal feed.
This is the reason we will invest more than $60 million into this new modern facility and create nearly 100 local jobs. We plan to recruit from places like the technical schools as well as local residents, and provide job training for our employees.
We care about Saluda County, our neighbors, and the 200 local independent growers, 2200 employees and customers who depend upon us. We are listening to your questions and concerns, and we are working to answer each of them to the best of our ability.
For example, we’re investing in the best technology available to prevent odors. We’re going to great lengths to make sure our treated water is sprayed well below the allowable limit of ¾ of an inch per week and typically spraying only \‡of an inch per week onto our hay crops. This is the same type of method used at Amick Farms.
We are working with the county water authority to have a water line run to our plant site, which will provide half or more of our water. This means we will NOT dry up your wells, and neighbors will have the choice of connecting to the public water line, or they can continue to use their well water.
In addition to the new jobs, the purchase of local goods and services, and the planned road improvements, SC Pet Food Solutions, once fully operational, will pay well over six figures per year in taxes and/or fees. Additionally, the community will benefit from an extended water line to the area and new access to internet service. Further, SC Pet Food Solutions will be a long-term corporate citizen who will invest in local schools and community groups.
Most importantly, this new operation will allow Amick Farms to continue to be a viable business into the future, which is good for Saluda County and good for our employees, growers, and the many businesses that serve Amick Farms.
CAB Business Development
Center Officially Announced
Saluda is getting a new business that will add many jobs downtown.
At Monday’s County Council meeting, Chairman Don Hancock read the following announcement from a press release handed out by Development Director Ed Parler:
“CAB Business Development Center, a Charleston-based call center specializing in cyber- security and breach response member services is bringing over 72 jobs to Saluda in 2017. Positioned as a 24/7 call center with flexible work schedules and opportunities, CAB is poised to become one of Saluda’s premier employers this year, creating long- lasting partnerships within the community and bringing a high level of visibility from prominent clients!”
Council then proceeded to give third and final reading to an ordinance that will give CAB a place to operate.
Under the terms of the ordinance Council will lease the building at 119 North Main Street (former Saluda Consignment Shop), purchased by the county on Jan. 10, to the Town of Saluda for ten years. The Town will have an option to purchase the building and will be responsible for the upkeep. Saluda will also reimburse the county for approximately $1800 in closing costs incurred by the county in purchasing the property.
Council took care of 16 items on the agenda before going into Executive Session.
A resolution recognizing retired Tax Assessor Josephine Young for her 28-years service to Saluda County was approved.
First reading was given to an ordinance to execute a quit deed on the old Emory School. Saluda County attempted to deed the school to the Emory Community Club in 1979, but could not because the club was not incorporated. Emory School, Inc. is now a non-profit corporation, so a deed can be granted for a purchase price of $5.00.
Council took as information a request from the Airport Commission to lower the lease rates on the T-Hangars at the airport. Commissioner Gerry Spragg said the commission felt by lowering the lease, they could attract renters for the four vacant hangers. If all the hangars are occupied, the airport will qualify for FAA funding. Spragg said the commissioners were confident the hangars could be rented at the lower rate, which will make the airport more competitive.
County Emergency Management Director Josh Morton got two requests approved. One was for an update on a mutual aid agreement between all counties in the state for assistance in emergencies. The other request was to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the development of an improved radio system.
An RFP was also approved for the County Emergency Medical Services for pre-employment health screening. Training and Infectious Control Officer James Cole said the screening would find any pre-existing health issues before applicants for EMS and the fire departments are hired or added to the volunteer staffs.
At the recommendation of Hancock and Councilman Frank Daniel, Council approved getting bids to replace the roofs at the County Annex and the County Agriculture Building. Councilman D.J. Miller asked if repair estimates could be included also in the bids, but withdrew his suggestion when he was told the roofs were beyond repair.
Council voted to repair the Food Pass Doors at the Saluda County Detention Center. Councilwoman Gwen Shealy said she and Councilman Jones Butler had studied two options. One option would be replacing all the jail doors at a cost of $35,000. The other would be repairing the food pass doors for $8,000. Shealy and Butler recommended making the repairs..
Four grant requests by grants coordinator Jill Warren for EMS, EMD and the coroner were approved. None of the grants require any matching funds.
The first grant from Homeland Security for Tactical Medical Training is for $5673. Cole said the grant is for training and equipment. EMS personnel will be trained to go in with SWAT squads in attempt to save more lives during mass shootings.
Cole said it was estimated if EMS workers had gone in with SWAT members at Columbine or Sandy Oak, for instance, 30-40 percent of the lives of victims would have been saved.
The second grant would provide a drone that could be used by EMD and law enforcement. The drone can be used in emergency situations when roads are impassable, and the Sheriff’s Department can use the drone to search for lost individuals or suspects in the run. Morton said the drone includes a camera worth $7000. He assured Councilwoman Shealy that the drone is programmed to return to its base, and will not fly away. Total coast for the drone is $20,000.
Approved for the Coroners office was a grant for $3000 that would supply 50 heavy-duty body bags, and filters for the evidence drying cabinet./
Finally approved was a grant application for EMS from Firehouse Subs for three Lucas Chest Compression Systems for $54,000. The system provides mechanical chest compressions, and has a much higher success rate than manual CPR.
The Accommodations Tax Funds which are designed to go toward tourism projects, were distributed as follows: Capital City Lake Murray Country - $2000; Friends of Ridge Spring - $1500; Palmetto Tractor Club - $1200; Richland Creek Antique Power Association - $1800; Ridge Spring Harvest Festival - $1500; Saluda County Historical Society - $1600; Saluda County Tourism Committee - $2900; Saluda Young Farmer & Agribusiness Assoc. - $2500.
Butler’s nomination of Joan Hipp to be reappointed to the Library Board was approved.
The following came out of Executive Session:
1. To authorize a temporary part-time Library Aide position for 15-20 hours per week, at minimum wage, for the months of June and July to be paid from funds in the Library budget, to advertise according to county policy, and adopt the updated part-time Library Aide job description.
2. To authorize an Apprentice Appraiser position in the Tax Assessor’s office, Grade 18, to advertise according to county policy ,and adopt the updated Apprentice Appraiser job description.
WATER TREATMENT PLANT GROUNDBREAKING - From Left to Right: Julia McCusker CoBank, Jerry Strawbridge – SCWSA Chairman, Liz Rosinski – Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA), Michele Cardwell – USDA-RD – Acting State Director, Bob Nelson – SCWSA Board member, Jason Fell – SCWSA – General Manager, Al Stevens – SCWSA Board member, Jimmy Gillian – SCWSA Board member. (Standard-Sentinel photo)
Ground Broken On $21 Million
County Water Treatment Plant
February 2, 2017, was a great day of thanksgiving for Saluda County Water and Sewer Authority (SCWSA).
SCWSA is now under construction for their transformational $21.1 Million Water Treatment Plant (WTP) will be built withdrawing water from Lake Murray. SCWSA’s board first envisioned having their own WTP almost two decades ago. It is now under construction in 2017. SCWSA expects the WTP to be operating by early Summer in 2018.
The WTP is largely financed through a $12,543,000 loan and a $7,133,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD). In addition, SCWSA received a $500,000 grant from South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) and SCWSA’s contribution of up to $1,000,000. CoBank is providing the interim construction financing for the project. The purpose of SCWSA’s WTP is to serve the needs of all citizens throughout the County, residential and industrial.
Rural Saluda County’s need for water is not unique. In 1970, South Carolina’s legislature saw that while it’s urban centers and county seats had established public water and sewer for its citizens, its rural citizens had been neglected. That year, the South Carolina State Legislative Assembly passed a law establishing special purpose districts, creating numerous water and sewer authorities across South Carolina to serve an unmet need. Specifically, it granted SCWSA the right to serve water and sewer for all of the rural and unincorporated areas of Saluda County. This law planted a seed that took over two decades to germinate in Saluda County.
In the early 1990’s, with the assistance of Amick Farms, SCWSA became a reality. USDA-Rural Development provided the funding for SCWSA’s initial waterlines. Which at that time, was the largest project funded in South Carolina and one of the largest in the nation. Since then, SCWSA and USDA-Rural Development (USDA-RD) have been linked with a quick succession of projects that quickly established SCWSA’s presence. This Water Treatment Plant project is not the end, but a remarkable watershed moment in the relationship between USDA-RD and SCWSA.
The $21.1 Million in WTP project costs can be roughly divided among the three contracts as follows: Water Treatment Plant $15.7 Million, Raw Water Intake $3.4 Million, and 1.4 miles of 20-inch Raw Waterlines and 0.5 miles of 10-inch Finished Waterlines and 2.7 miles of 20-inch Finished Waterlines totaling $2.0 Million. With the $500,000 grant funding from RIA, SCWSA elected to increase its water storage capacity from 0.5 to 1 Million Gallons and elected to add chlorine dioxide feed system.
The WTP will initially be able to produce 4 million gallons of water a day (MGD) with the ability to produce 6 MGD shortly after the WTP is operating. SCWSA also planned for future growth with a permit through SCE&G to withdraw up to 15 MGD from Lake Murray.
USDA-RD Rural Utilities Service is unique as a federal agency program. It does not add to the national debt, providing grants to utilities in need from revenue it generates from it loans. The key is that less than half of one percent ever default on an USDA-RD loan. Paradoxically, it is the lender of last resort for rural utilities unable to find financing elsewhere. Under USDA-RD Acting State Director Michele Cardwell’s leadership, USDA-RD has been able to fund an unprecedented sum of projects for rural South Carolina communities. Ms. Cardwell understood that it was necessary to provide the $7.1 Million in grant to SCWSA so that they could maintain reasonable rates for its rural customers.
Correspondingly, SCWSA does not receive any revenue from taxes. SCWSA is a non-profit, special purpose district, run solely on the revenue it receives from its customers. SCWSA is governed by a five-member board of representatives within SCWSA’s service area. They are appointed by the recommendation of our legislative delegation and approval of the governor. Each has a fiduciary duty to protect SCWSA’s interests. They have entrusted, Jason Fell, as General Manager, to run the day to day operations of SCWSA.
SCWSA’s Board members are Jimmy Gillian, Bob Nelson, Al Stevens and Chairman Jerry Strawbridge. This board’s mission is to the dignity of the customer and its employees, the responsibility to provide great water at a reasonable price and wherever financially sustainable, extend water service to those citizens of Saluda County in need. This board had the vision and the resolve to stand its ground, because they knew their cause to be just and right. It took SCWSA over 17 years to get this project to construction. When there was a setback, they never looked backward for very long, they kept moving forward. Specifically, Mr. Strawbridge’s leadership and tenacity were critical factors as to why this project is under construction.
This Water Treatment Plant project is transformative for SCWSA. This project is one of the larger projects ever funded by USDA-RD in South Carolina. This project is remarkable. It allows SCWSA the ability to provide its customers with exceptional water quality. It also provides SCWSA the capacity to offer water to all of Saluda County, to attract commercial and industrial customers, and offer water to all those in the Western Midlands.
With the WTP project commencing, SCWSA is looking to USDA-RD this year for assistance in funding the Holley Ferry / Spann Road Project. It projects to provide water service to over 700 new customers in rural Saluda County. Following the above map, the water lines will extend to the southern county line on Hwy 391 and waterlines around the Holley Ferry Road area. It will also provide an arterial line from Hwy 391, across Corley Bridge Road, and down Spann Road creating a second waterline to Amick Farms and Western Saluda County. This project will also create an interconnection with Ward on Spann Road. The project will involve constructing two new elevated storage tanks one on the northern end of Spann Road and the other on the southern end of Spann Road along with a booster pump station creating two separate pressure zones. The Holley Ferry / Spann Road Project will significantly advance SCWSA’s water system.
SCWSA appreciates the help and support of U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham’s office, U.S. Senator Tim Scott’s office, U.S. Representative Jeff Duncan’s office, SC Senator Shane Massey, SC Senator Floyd Nicholson, SC Senator Nikki Setzler, SC Representative Bill Clyburn, former SC Representative Ralph Kennedy and look forward to current SC Representative Cal Forrest’s support. Additionally, SCWSA appreciates the help and support of Saluda County Council including Chairman Don Hancock, USDA-Rural Development Acting State Director Michele Cardwell, USDA-RD Area Director Debbie Turbeville, and RD Specialist Bryan Jordan, RIA Executive Director Bonnie Ammons and RIA Program Manager Liz Rosinski, RIA Director Bill Clyburn, CoBank Vice President Julia McCusker, former SCWSA Board member Tim Taylor, SCWSA’s Employees and everyone else that helped along the way. SCWSA also thanks its Design Engineers, MBD Consulting Engineers, P.A. and Hulsey McCormick & Wallace. SCWSA looks forward to a successful WTP project with its Contractors: Harper Corporation General Contractors (WTP), Republic Contracting (Raw Water Intake), and Chandler Construction (Waterlines).