RESIDENTS, AGENCIES FIGHT FOR WATER
FROM: THE GREENVILLE (SC) NEWS [link]
PUBLISHED SATURDAY, JULY 24, 2004
By Anna B. Brutzman
It's called extortion by some; a necessary tool by others.
Some cities across the state extend their utility services to residents or developers in exchange for annexation of their property. It is a way to grow in a state where the law is unfriendly to annexation.
Columbia does it, Spartanburg does it and Georgetown does it, among other municipalities, according to Municipal Association Director Howard Duvall. Easley and Greer don't.
Greenville doesn't annex properties outright through its water system, but it has begun recently requiring new water customers within a mile of the city to sign off on being annexed later if the city so desires.
City officials insist that targeting areas for annexation is crucial for the city's financial health, which everybody in the region benefits from.
But the impact on residents can include higher taxes, higher insurance rates and confusion over which agency is providing services. Fire protection, in particular, is an essential service that about 30 special fire districts provide in Greenville County.
"Our concern was that we could not use county Community Development Block Grant funds to do any work with development if there was a potential for annexation," said Martin Livingston, whose Greenville County Redevelopment Authority takes sagging neighborhoods and rebuilds them using federal money.
He said the authority halted work on its $15 million redevelopment of Brutontown, a neighborhood just outside the city line on Rutherford Road, when officials realized the area could get annexed.
Mayor Knox White said the City Council intends to pass a resolution exempting Brutontown from annexation.
But the city does hope to annex sites in developing areas, especially along interstates 385 and 85 — a move that threatens several fire districts whose leaders don't want to see valuable property-tax revenue move over to the city.
"Cities have a natural need to grow to protect their tax base," White said.
The result has been a turf war over fire protection and other services historically provided by special purpose districts.
Wade Hampton Fire District Chief Gary Downey recalls how his fire and sewer was formed back in the 1950s.
"The wells were running dry. People didn't have adequate water," he said. "Nobody wanted to have anything to do with them because the tax base wasn't there."
State Sen. Mike Fair of Greenville County has introduced legislation several times to prevent municipalities from using their utility services to expand boundaries into now valuable areas. The previous bills failed to pass.
"I did and do think it's legal extortion," he said.
Municipalities have invested millions of dollars into utility systems and should expect to be able to grow, according to Duvall.
The Greenville Water System's 145,000 customers, 80 percent of whom are outside the city, make it the largest city-owned water system in the state.
"Without infrastructure, the sand hills around Columbia would still be sand hills," Duvall said.
Residents shouldn't object to cities trying to stay financially healthy through expansion, he said, because they tend to be the economic engines of an entire region.
Greenville County resident Cliatt Alewine, who also is chairman of the Boiling Springs Fire District Commission, said he can't think of any suburb of the county that doesn't already receive urban services such as water, sewer and fire protection through special districts.
"What can they offer us except higher taxes?" he said of Greenville annexation.
Greer has expanded dramatically over the past 10 years, tripling in size, according to Greer Public Works Director Jerry Balding, and it has done so without requiring water customers to be annexed. As the city's boundaries have expanded, so has his department's 15,500-strong customer base.
"Our success is tied to the city of Greer and their success," Balding said.
Boiling Springs Fire Chief Gerald Luker expects to see his revenue go down by thousands of dollars when several portions of his district go under Greer's jurisdiction in 2010 — an arrangement that gives the department time to pay off a loan. His fire district also abuts areas targeted for annexation by Greenville, he said.
"Naturally, that will be a big impact as far as adding additional personnel," he said.
His department's $2.5 million budget covers equipment and salaries for 37 full-time firefighters at three fire stations. He also works with about 20 volunteers.
Its three-minute response times, professional firefighters and up-to-date equipment have earned the district a good insurance rating, something Luker fears might not follow residents once they fall under city jurisdiction.
While the city of Greenville's expansion has been more piecemeal, the approximately 20 properties it has annexed near I-385 is making the Wade Hampton Fire District nervous, according to its spokesman, Taft Matney.
"I think it's a very grave concern to Wade Hampton," Matney said. "The question is ultimately safety."
Like Luker, Matney questioned whether properties annexed into Greenville would get as quick a response from city firefighters.
He said the city of Greenville also is supposed to compensate the fire district for some of its lost revenue and come up with a plan for fire protection.
"Wade Hampton Fire District has made numerous attempts to contact the city of Greenville and so far has received no response form the city to devise any plan," he said.
He and Luker were open to the idea of continuing to provide service within the city limits. "The way I see it, if you already have service in place, why not leave it in place?" Luker said.
That is an option open to cities, the municipal association's Duvall said.
Fair said overlapping services is a problem in South Carolina and suggested that a public vote by residents on who they want providing their services might be an answer.
He said countywide consolidation of services, like in Mecklenburg County, N.C., and Jacksonville, Fla., might also work.
"No one seems to be asking the question of what's best for taxpayers," he said.
OUR TURN: THE FIELD IS SET. NOW WHAT SHOULD BUSH, KERRY TALK ABOUT?
CANDIDATES SHOULD TALK ABOUT IDEAS; BUT CHARACTER COUNTS
FROM: THE GREENVILLE (SC) NEWS [link]
PUBLISHED FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2004
Some say, "Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words."
Me? Well, through layers of cynicism, beats the heart of a foolish idealist.
I like to think that while a person’s actions provide valuable character insights, ideas actually matter. I want to know not just what a person thought in the past but what he or she believes today and what those beliefs mean to our future.
I’m one of those rare voters who reads a candidate’s direct mail. I watch debates, listen to speeches and want to understand the implications of a candidate’s statement beyond a carefully crafted sound-bite.
I want to know what separates candidates in terms of character, philosophy and issues. I want to decide for myself who will get my vote instead of some talking-head telling me who should get it.
I know what issues are important to me. You know what issues are important to you. President Bush and Sen. Kerry know what issues are important to them. That’s all irrelevant now.
It’s time to talk about issues that are important to America, and if I have to tell a presidential candidate what those issues are, that person has no business in the White House.
TAFT MATNEY, 31, LIVES IN GREENVILLE AND IS THE PRESIDENT OF A LOCAL PUBLIC RELATIONS AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS FIRM.
FIREFIGHTERS HONORED FOR SAVING LIVES AT HOTEL FIRE
FROM: THE GREENVILLE (SC) NEWS [link]
PUBLISHED MONDAY, JULY 19, 2004
By Paul Alongi
Gary Downey says he was sleeping at home when the monitor beeped and the dispatcher on the other end told him about a fire at the Comfort Inn.
It was shortly after 4 a.m., so the Wade Hampton fire chief knew people would be at the hotel.
"It's not a good feeling," he said on Sunday.
Six died and 12 were injured, the worst death toll Downey has seen in a career spanning more than 40 years. But it could've been worse.
Firefighters rescued several hotel guests with ladders and a platform truck. Six months later, the Wade Hampton Fire Department has won the "Meritorious Action" award from the South Carolina State Firemen's Association.
The award, given to the department Saturday night in Myrtle Beach, recognized firefighters who battled the blaze during a Jan. 25 winter storm that coated the Upstate with ice.
Guests jumped from the windows and climbed down knotted bed sheets to escape the fire that started on the third floor.
Afterwards, firefighters underwent coping sessions, Downey said. Fire alarms at hotels and just driving by the Comfort Inn on Congaree Road bring back the memories of the tragedy, he said.
"It's something that's going to be with you for the rest of your life," Downey said.
The Greenville County Coroner's Office ruled the deaths as homicide. No arrests have been made, and it's considered an active investigation, said Sgt. Shea Smith of the Greenville County Sheriff's Office.
The fire gave rise to a bill that would have required sprinklers in hotels. Another bill would have required hotels without sprinklers to notify guests. Both died in the Legislature.
Downey said the association will continue to push for sprinklers in hotels.
"If anything should come of it, let's try to do something that's going to save other people's lives," he said. "Let's not sweep it under the rug."
TECHNOLOGY PROVIDER ANNOUNCES APPLICATION TO INCREASE AIRPORT SECURITY
GODDARD TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION LAUNCHES WINBADGE NOFLY REVIEW
(JULY 19, 2004 / GREENVILLE, SC) Officials at Greenville, SC-based Goddard Technology Corporation, a leading provider of biometric, smart card, and secure credential solutions, today launched WinBadge® NoFly Review - a security application designed to help airports comply with a recent Security Directive from the United States Transportation Security Administration.
Bill Donohue, Goddard's president and CEO said, "This new TSA directive is aimed at increasing protective measures around sterile and SIDA (Secure Identification Display Area) areas of travel hubs - including airports. Part of this directive requires enhanced background checks and access controls for airport personnel with clearance for work in restricted areas."
According to Donohue, Goddard worked in conjunction with the Orlando International Airport to develop an application to automate this process. The result is WinBadge NoFly Review.
"Our team designed WinBadge NoFly Review to check cardholders against the federal government's 'no-fly' list and to then inform badge issuing personnel that additional reviews must be completed for the person to receive a badge providing access to secure airport areas," Donohue added.
Stored in airline databases and accessed when passengers check in, the federal government's "no-fly" list has existed since the early 1990s but was expanded after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Although the FBI and TSA do not discuss the list's details as matters of national security, compiled through intelligence and law enforcement investigations, the database contains names of individuals who are either known terrorists or have links to known terrorists and terrorist organizations.
With WinBadge NoFly Review, airports are enabled to:
* Import updated "no-fly" lists
* Automatically display "no-fly" data
* Cross-match "no-fly" data to cardholder databases warehousing names and aliases
* Display detailed identification or access control system and "no-fly" record data to allow security personnel to follow-up matches
"WinBadge Aviation is installed at several of the nation's largest air and seaports," Donohue said citing Ronald Reagan Washington National, Washington Dulles International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and the Port of Seattle in addition to Orlando International Airport which served as NoFly Review's first live installation. "For us, creating WinBadge NoFly Review is a natural progression of our product research, development, and production."
He added, "We are in the business of security. Our client partners at medical facilities, educational institutions, military installations, and transportation hubs like air and seaports have sensitive information that must be protected. WinBadge NoFly Review helps ensure that only people approved to be in sensitive areas are there. When considering our nation's security, we want to provide all of the protection we can."
ABOUT GODDARD TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION
Headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, Goddard Technology Corporation is a privately-held software company specializing in secure digital imaging and database management solutions for a variety of vertical industry segments.
In domestic and international markets, Goddard Technology Corporation's experience includes over 500 installed systems among its worldwide client base which includes public sector clients in areas such as aviation, education, military, government, healthcare, and tourism while also servicing private sector clients in financial and corporate industries.
Founded in 1986, Goddard Technology Corporation established and developed its market leadership though advancements in functions such as: Custom Application Development, Digital Image Acquisition, Storage, Retrieval, Secure Identification and Credentials, Biometrics Integration and Management, Smart Card Design and Integration, Database Design, Integration and Management, Systems Integration and Installation, and Web-based/Wireless Applications.
Based on advanced offerings like its WinBadge Aviation suite, powered by intellectual property under license from ImageWare Systems®, Inc., Goddard Technology Corporation is the industry leader in providing advanced custom applications and system integration services.
For additional information, visit Goddard Technology Corporation at [link].
For media inquiries regarding this release, please contact Taft Matney by e-mail (email@example.com).
Brand names, product names, services, companies, events, and publications are or may be trademarks or registered trademarks of, and are used to identify, products or services of their respective owners in the U.S. and/or other countries.
This news release contains or may contain forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results or facts to differ materially from such statements for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to: industry conditions, changes in supply, pricing, and customer demand, competition, other industry vagaries, and changes in key supplier relationships. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made. The company undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements.
BRAVERY AND HEROISM RECOGNIZED BY FIRST RESPONDERS
WADE HAMPTON (SC) FIRE DEPARTMENT HONORED BY STATE FIREMEN'S ASSOCIATION
(MYRTLE BEACH, SC / JULY 18, 2004) At last night's "South Carolina's Bravest Awards Celebration" presented by the South Carolina State Firemen's Association, Greenville County’s Wade Hampton Fire Department received the award for "Meritorious Action" for its response to the tragic January Comfort Inn fire in which six people lost their lives and twelve were injured.
The award, jointly presented by Wade Hampton's Commission Chairman Vernon Wade and association president and Mauldin Fire Department Chief James Moore, recognized the department’s firefighters who battled the flames during the January 25, 2004 storm that covered much of Upstate South Carolina with ice.
Following an emotional video presentation, Mark Vaughn, Wade Hampton's acting Battalion Chief on duty the night of the fire, accepted the award on the department’s behalf.
The video, which included television footage of the fire and interviews from the firefighters involved, brought tears to the eyes of the firefighters and families who crowded the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Wade Hampton's Chief Gary Downey praised his department saying that Vaughn and the other firefighters displayed ultimate professionalism and followed their training exactly.
"Firefighters don't do this job for fame or glory, but it's nice for our guys to be recognized for their efforts. They deserve it," Downey added.
The fire erupted shortly after 4:00 a.m. on the hotel's third floor, and several of Wade Hampton’s engines and a platform truck quickly responded to find victims who had either jumped or were preparing to leap and escape the smoke and heat.
Though some families broke glass to escape through windows by jumping or using knotted bed sheets to scale down the building, Wade Hampton's firefighters divided their resources to rescue the hotel’s remaining guests and control the fire.
Several hotel guests were rescued using the department's platform truck and others by fire department ladders.
"This was the worst fire fatality I've seen in Greenville County in decades. It was very tough," Chief Downey said.
"Residents and businesses in the Wade Hampton District are fortunate to have professionals as dedicated and well-trained as our firefighters," Downey added.
ABOUT THE WADE HAMPTON FIRE DEPARTMENT
Established in 1958 with boundaries that encompass much of Greenville (SC) County's Eastside, the Wade Hampton Fire Department provides an array of programs to protect the lives and property of residents and businesses the throughout the special purpose district.
For further information about the Wade Hampton Fire Department, visit [link].
For media inquiries regarding this release, please contact Taft Matney by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This news release contains or may contain forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results or facts to differ materially from such statements for a variety of reasons. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made. The Wade Hampton Fire Department undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements.
FIREMEN'S ASSOCIATION TO HONOR WADE HAMPTON (SC) FIRE DEPARTMENT THIS WEEKEND
TOMORROW, JULY 17, 2004, THE SOUTH CAROLINA STATE FIREMEN'S ASSOCIATION WILL HONOR GREENVILLE COUNTY'S WADE HAMPTON FIRE DEPARTMENT.
At the association's annual conference, Wade Hampton Fire Department will receive an award for its response and handling of the January 25, 2004 Comfort Inn fire on Congaree Road in Greenville, South Carolina in which six people lost their lives.
The event will occur at the South Carolina State Firemen’s Association annual "South Carolin's Bravest Awards Celebration" banquet – this year at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center from 7:00 p.m. until approximately 9:30 p.m.
Conference information is available by visiting [link].
Local media outlets will receive a detailed news release tomorrow (7/17/04) for broadcast and/or publication after 6:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Fire department personnel will be available for interviews at the award ceremony or after its conclusion.
For information regarding this media advisory please contact Taft Matney by phone (864/505-8866), by fax (864/297-3871), or by e-mail (email@example.com).