Water, land use among top issues in first half of 2008

Published 2:34 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

&bsp;Snowstorm blankets Polk County High School educational farm.&bsp;Other stories in the first six months included battles between the county and the sheriff&squo;s office over fuel overruns and turnover rates; the affiliation of St. Luke&squo;s Hospital with Carolinas Healthcare and the proposal of a new equestrian facility to host the Block House Steeplechase.

Highlights for each of the first six months are below:January

&ull; A hiker was rescued near Bradley Falls after falling off a trail and injuring his leg. Rescue crews from both Polk and Henderson counties spent many hours in the rain rescuing the man, who had been hiking with a friend.

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&ull; The area received its first snow of the year. After a period of temperatures in the high 50s, residents awoke on Jan. 2 to a light dusting of snow on cars and trees.

&ull; Polk County commissioners and town councils from Tryon, Saluda and Columbus met to focus on creating a water authority. The county decided to go on its own in creating a county water system.

&ull; Laura Weicker became the new executive director of Tryon Riding & Hunt Club. Weicker replaced her mom, Mitzi Lindsey, who retired after 35 years.

&ull; A rock slide blocked Hwy. 176 near the Pacolet Valley. No injuries were reported and the N.C. Department of Transportation cleared the scene.

&ull; New house permits in Polk County were reported to be down 14 percent in 2007 while the average new home value hit a record high. The Polk County inspection office reported a total of 164 permits for single family dwellings in 2007 compared to 191 permits in 2006.

&ull; Head football coach John Cann resigned after seven years at Landrum High School. Cann remained as the high school&squo;s athletic director.

&ull; Landrum held a ribbon-cutting celebrating the opening of its new walking trail at Brookwood Park. The city received about $140,000 in grant funding to construct the trail.

&ull; The Tryon Fine Arts Center announced the hiring of Chris Farrell as its new executive director.

&ull; A Landrum couple, Preston W. Turner and Fannie Elizabeth Turner, were killed in a motor vehicle crash near the intersection of Hwy. 14 and Hwy. 414. Angela Carter, the couple&squo;s niece, was driving the other vehicle.

&ull; The area received its first real snow of the year on Jan. 16, with a total of 2.4 inches received in Tryon. The snow was mixed with rain and freezing rain.

&ull; Saluda resident Natalie Rock auditioned in Charlotte for the TV show, &dquo;America&squo;s Got Talent.&dquo;

&ull; District One Schools named Chapman High&squo;s principal, Dr. Ron Garner, as Dr. Jimmy Littlefield&squo;s replacement as superintendent. Littlefield stayed on to mentor Garner in his 21st year as District One Supt.

&ull; Tryon Town Manager Jim Fatland resigned officially after 5&rac12; years as manager. He initially resigned in December, 2007, and Tryon officials asked him to reconsider.

&ull; After facing a lawsuit, Tryon rescinded a plan for involuntary annexation of an area including most of Lynn. The town began looking at a new annexation area that included most of Gillette Woods.

&ull; The Town of Tryon voted down a lease with the Henderson County YMCA. The town had planned to bring a YMCA to Harmon Field, but negotiations with the Henderson County and later the Spartanburg County YMCAs failed.

&ull;The Tryon Daily Bulletin celebrated its 80th birthday.February

&ull; Polk County approved a 7-acre minimum lot size requirement for major subdivisions. The lower density requirement was approved for major subdivisions without public water or sewer and a five-acre minimum lot size was approved for major subdivisions with public water or sewer.

&ull; S.C. Rep. Bob Walker was placed in the S.C. Hall of Fame as &dquo;aviator of the year.&dquo;

&ull; House of Flags founder and curator George Scofield resigned from the House of Flags. Scofield, who was known in the area as &dquo;the flag man,&dquo; died in November at the age of 85.

&ull; AAA ranked Polk County one of the safest counties in North Carolina for motorists.

&ull; Polk County, Columbus, Saluda and Tryon begin working on plans to construct a water line connecting Tryon to Saluda. The county later decided not to participate. The water line will connect Tryon, Saluda and Columbus to Hendersonville and Asheville water systems for back-up sources.

&ull; 2008 election filing began.&bsp; Filing on the first day were local candidates for county commissioner Renee McDermott (D), incumbent Tom Pack (R), David Moore (R) and Ted Owens (R), along with with incumbent register of deeds Sheila Whitmire (R).Commissioner candidates Cindy Walker (D), Ray Gasperson (D), JoAnn Miksa-Blackwell (R) and incumbent Harry Denton (R) registered later. All Polk County School Board incumbents also filed.

&ull; Russell Mahaffey was named Landrum High School&squo;s new head football coach. Mahaffey had spent six years as the team&squo;s defensive coordinator.

&ull; Tryon approved a resolution of intent to involuntarily annex sections of Gillette Woods, Country Club Road and Harmon Field areas. The town officially approved the annexation in April.

&ull; Tryon hired interim town manager Bob Shepherd.

&ull; The Bank of Tryon building, now home to the Tryon Daily Bulletin, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

&ull; Saluda began planning major renovations to its city hall.

&ull; Polk County and Landrum chambers of commerce decided to merge.

&ull; Polk County and the towns of Columbus, Saluda and Tryon received a $1.43 million emergency water grant from the N.C. Rural Center to construct the water line connecting Saluda and Tryon and to place a reverse valve on an existing Tryon and Columbus water line to connect all three towns.

&ull; Danielle Regoni wins Miss Cardinal at Landrum High School.Pacolet River runs red.&bsp;March

&ull; The Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE) opened a new arena and received an $85,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center for enhancements to the arena.

&ull; St. Luke&squo;s Hospital began pursuing affiliation with large not-for-profit Carolinas HealthCare. The hospital later approved the merger.

&ull; Polk County Sheriff&squo;s Deputies received raises and county commissioners called for a pay scale study for all departments.

&ull; The Polk County High School ski/snowboard team finished its season with a second place overall trophy at the Cataloochee Ski Area.

&ull; The Foothills Village non-profit group, which helped seniors stay in their homes, was dissolved.

&ull; Tryon, Columbus and Saluda declined to accept county funding as a match to a N.C. Rural Center water grant. The towns decided not to join a water authority with the county and instead all three borrowed funding to pay the match to the $1.43 million grant.

&ull; The City of Saluda began planning to buy the Tuxedo water system.

&ull; A halfway house proposed by Herb Coon got approval by the Polk County Zoning Board of Adjustments. The permit was initially denied by the zoning administrator.

&ull; The Columbus Planning Board denied a variance for Larkin&squo;s Restaurant to build a patio facing Hwy. 108 at its Columbus Commons location.&ull; A Grover Industry dye spill turned the Pacolet River red, causing a stir by local residents. The plant was later cleared of any violations because it had state certification to release dye.

&ull; A community outreach project began to restore Gray&squo;s Chapel UMC and Zion Grove AME cemeteries.

&ull; Polk County Courthouse repairs increased by $120,000 because of unforeseen problems discovered under the 1859 building. The county later finished the restoration project for around $1 million total.

&ull; The Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival named Dale Musselwhite its new chairman. The barbecue festival held annually at Harmon Field in Tryon is the North Carolina State Barbecue Championship.

&ull; Polk County&squo;s Visioning Committee began visiting townships to receive feedback from residents to help shape Polk&squo;s comprehensive land use plan. The county completed a survey to all residents in 2007.

&ull; The Pacolet Baptist Church was demolished in Lynn. The lot will be used for parking.

&ull; Super Saturday, an annual children&squo;s festival in Tryon, celebrated its 30th birthday.

&ull; Chocolate Drop, a 45-lot subdivision in Columbus, sells out while area residents plead for more restrictive steep slope regulations to prevent the clearing of trees on mountainsides.April

&ull; The Town of Columbus dedicated its new police department building. The town decided to renovate a rental house owned by the town adjacent to town hall and convert it to its police department. The department was formerly located in the town hall basement.

&ull; Polk County was sued over its decision to impose a 7-acre minimum lot size for major subdivisions. The Ricks Mountain, LLC lawsuit case has not yet been resolved.

&ull; Local residents were featured in the hit blockbuster romantic comedy, &dquo;Leatherheads,&dquo; a George Clooney movie filmed in Greer, S.C.

&ull; Polk County began construction on a water line from the Polk County Middle School water line to the Mill Spring crossroads.

&ull; The Columbus Planning Board began extensive meetings to work on stricter regulations for development. The town later imposed an eight-month moratorium on major subdivisions, which recently ended.

&ull; Saluda resident Andrea Duke competed in the Miss USA pageant after serving as Miss North Carolina.

&ull; The trial of Polk County Sheriff Chris Abril on rape charges was set for Aug. 4 in Polk County. In August, the trial was moved to Buncombe County after Abril was suspected of jury tampering. Abril resigned and pled guilty in November to two counts of solicitation to take indecent liberties with a minor. He received three years supervised probation, two years of unsupervised probation and is currently serving house arrest through March, 2009.

&ull; Polk County&squo;s number of registered voters increased by 1,200, with the number of unaffiliated voters jumping 20 percent.

&ull; Sunny View children were named heroes after helping a neighbor trapped under a tractor. The sheriff and commissioners recognized five-year-old Daniel Ruff and his 13-year-old sister, Katie Ruff, for their bravery at a commissioners&squo; meeting.

&ull; The Town of Tryon relocated its recycling center from across from the fire department to the town&squo;s maintenance shed.

&ull; Tryon decided to use goats to eradicate kudzu on town owned property at the corner of Trade Street and Carolina Drive. The town used the rented goats for about a month to clear kudzu from the one-acre lot.

&ull; The Tryon Riding and Hunt Club held the 62nd running of the Steeplechase.

&ull; A local citizens&39; group called Citizens Against Forced Annexation raised funds for a lawsuit against Tryon&squo;s latest annexation plan. About 100 people attended a town meeting regarding the annexation where residents learned the revenue estimates for the project dropped 22 percent.

&ull; Columbus Town Council rejected pleas to de-annex the Foster Creek subdivision and to adopt a moratorium on development.

&ull; The City of Saluda announced that its proposed city hall renovation will cost an estimated $500,000.

&ull; The Town of Tryon replaced some of the Melrose Avenue sidewalk. Historic bricks were discovered and kept during the construction.

&ull; Polk County partnered with the Broad River Water Authority and Inman-Campobello Water District to connect those systems through Polk County. Polk paid no money for the line and is currently running water lines off the main line to provide Polk residents with public water.

&ull; Debra Giles, a Landrum High School English teacher, was named the 2008-2009 teacher of the year for Spartanburg County District One Schools.

&ull; St. Luke&squo;s Auxiliary celebrated its 60th birthday.

&ull; The N.C. Department of Transportation began work on replacing the Morgan Chapel bridge in Tryon after years of public input and planning. The bridge was recently completed.

&ull; Polk officials learned that chances of getting funding were bleak for a revamped U.S. 74/I-26 interchange in Columbus. The N.C. Department of Transportation revealed that the county project would cost $12 million and currently is not on the state&squo;s list of projects.

&ull; Plans for a race relations meeting were announced by the Thermal Belt Friendship Council. The meeting drew a crowd which discussed ways to improve community relations.May

&ull; Coyotes were reported running rampant in Polk County. Some residents began hunting and killing them.

&ull; Polk County purchased Lake Adger for $1.6 million to build an intake and draw water for a county water system.

&ull; David Moore, Tom Pack and Ted Owens won the Republican primary for Polk County commissioner. The Democratic candidates did not need a primary election. Incumbent Harry Denton lost in the primary after serving on the board six years. Polk County had a turnout of nearly 36 percent in the primary.

&ull; Bob Balme, journalist for the Polk County News Journal, died. He ran the paper for 16 years and died on May 3 at the age of 79.

&ull; A rare albino groundhog was found in Columbus. Local veterinarian Dr. Angel Mitchell of Bonnie Brae Veterinary Clinic found the newborn groundhog. The groundhog was sent to Wild at Heart Wildlife Rehabilitation in Green Creek.

&ull; Winds cut power to approximately 1,800 Polk County residents as well as to Sunny View School, which had to be closed for a day.

&ull; Bright&squo;s Creek hosted the BMW Charity Pro Am golf tournament.

&ull; The Polk County High School Band completed fundraising to play in China for the 2008 Olympics.

&ull; The City of Saluda honored 1976 police chief killed in the line of duty. A memorial bench was unveiled in the name of chief Andrew Williams, who was shot and killed on Sept. 3, 1976.

&ull; Polk County Sheriff Deputy Gary Cox was airlifted after wrecking a patrol car on his way to a breaking and entering call. The accident sparred a dispute between county commissioners and former Polk County Sheriff Chris Abril, in which the sheriff claimed his fleet was aged.

&ull; Polk officials reveal that the sheriff&squo;s office was on track to exceed its fuel budget by 100 percent. The sheriff&squo;s office also at the time was experiencing a 78 percent turnover rate, which spurred discussions between then Sheriff Abril and commissioners.

&ull; Tryon councilman Roy Miller stressed to town council the need to clean up the Eastside neighborhood, dealing with dilapidated homes and controlling drug activity in the area.

&bsp;&ull; Black bears began to be spotted near Tryon, especially in the Gillette Woods area.

&ull; The House of Flags museum&bsp; began discussing renovating the former Columbus Fire Hall for a new museum instead of demolishing the building and constructing a new museum as previously planned.

&ull; Columbus approved an eight-month moratorium on major subdivisions after continuous pleas from the public to halt development until stricter ordinances were in place. The moratorium ended a couple of weeks ago.June

&ull; Spartanburg County District One Schools Supt. Dr. Jimmy Littlefield was named top superintendent in South Carolina.

&ull; Dr. Jack Miller of Crossville, Tenn., was named Tryon&squo;s new town manager. Miller worked for a few months and resigned recently.

&ull; Incumbent S.C. Rep. Bob Walker (R) was beaten in the primary by Joey Millwood (R). Millwood also won the seat in November. Millwood edged Walker by 19 votes.

&ull; A new equestrian facility was proposed in Green Creek. Planners said the property was intended to host the Steeplechase in the future. The approximately 100-acre property was donated to the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club by Roger Smith.

&ull; N.C. Governor candidate Bev Purdue, who later won the seat, visited Polk County.

&ull; The second portion of a lawsuit against the Town of Tryon and the Tryon Country Club ended in favor of the town and club. Many property owners had sued the town and club over the town&39;s decision to rezone country club property to house a subdivision. The property owners appealed the court decisions.

&ull; The 15th annual Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival was held at Harmon Field in Tryon. Attendance was down about 30 percent from the festival&39;s usual 25,000 attendance.

&ull; Landrum restaurants asked city council to hold a referendum on Sunday alcohol sales. City council told the restaurants to begin a petition to create a referendum.

&ull; The Polk County Sheriff&squo;s Office was accused of pressuring a witness to make false claims, causing a search of the home of Steve Marlowe, who was charged with manufacturing marijuana. The case against Marlowe was dropped, with Judge Marlene Hyatt stating that the sheriff&squo;s office showed &dquo;reckless disregard for the law.&dquo;

&ull; Polk County commissioners banned swimming and alcohol at Laughter Pond in Mill Spring.

&ull; Bradley Crossing, a proposed subdivision in Lynn, requested to be annexed into Tryon. Tryon council later denied the annexation request but agreed to supply the subdivision water services.

&ull; The Polk County High School Band visited China, performed at the Summer Olympics and sent journals of the trip to the Bulletin.

&ull; A fire destroyed a waterfront home in the Mountain Park section of the Lake Adger development.

&ull; The Town of Columbus unveiled plans to renovate Courthouse and Gibson Streets surrounding the courthouse. The town is currently applying for grants to help fund the work.

&ull; The Town of Columbus decided not to apply for grants to run sewer lines to Mill Spring and decided to begin discussions with Polk County regarding connecting Columbus and the county&squo;s water systems. &bsp;&bsp;&bsp;&bsp;