Pickens County Council discuss issues in their March monthly meeting

Last night March 6, 2023, the Pickens County Council had their monthly meeting in the council chamber in Pickens.

The meeting kicked off with a heart-felt congratulations to the Liberty High School’s wrestling team as Class AA South Carolina High School Wrestling Champions.

Liberty High School wrestling team recognized by the Pickens County Council for winning the 2023 Class AA SC High School Wrestling Championship. Photo: Laura Hinty

As part of the regular meeting, the council heard from citizens in the community on several issues:

  • Alan Quinn of Easy Bend Farm spoke on the importance of economic development in Pickens County and requested to be on the advisory board.
  • A local resident spoke about paving roads, commercial development, and tax breaks.
  • Robert Lee, a veteran who lives in Clemson, asked the county council to submit a letter to the SC Attorney General regarding a state ordinance that may be discriminatory to veterans.
  • Dawn Crooks, a resident of Habersham, spoke about the proposed annexation of Brown Drive/Sheriff Mill Road, and the lack of county representation in annexation votes. She stated that the city can take county property without the county residents having a say in the matter despite the immediate impact to the county. Only city residents get to vote on annexation issues. There was a mention of a tax break offer by an official of the city, that the County Council will investigate. Crooks requested for this to be looked into, and a decrease in the amount of annexations.

Ken Roper, the County Administrator gave a report on a recent goals session. These goals include: proactively addressing challenges to the community, increasing employee morale, keeping up momentum on roads, and establishing metrics to understand the growth in the county, i.e. the metric of parcels.

Pickens County Council meeting March 6, 2023 in Pickens, SC. Photo: Laura Hinty

One of the issues that was discussed in-depth was the hard work of our EMS services, and finding ways to appreciate their efforts and dedication. Yes, pay is important and has been increased 10-15% but the county is looking to do more here. For instance, the county wants to incentivize and motivate the first responders potentially through First Responder Appreciation Days, capital improvement, and a rebranding effort.

After these discussions the council moved on to vote for an excavator for $142,000. Again, vigorous discussion was had on the topic, and the vote passed in favor buying the machine. Lollis and Saitta voting no, and Linvill, Costner, Bowers, Wilson voting yes. Visit the previous articles published about the county landfill decisions, and opposing County Council Saitta’s statements regarding his vote against the landfill expansion.

Steve Pelissier, a representative from the Appalachian Councils of Government thanked the Council for funding that went towards meals and transportation for the aging, planning a retreat for Liberty officials, geo data to market the county, and more.

Next, was a vote on consideration of a proposed application by Pickens County to the State Transportation and Infrastructure Bank regarding funding for improvements to South Carolina Highway 183. The motion was for the ability to send a letter on the matter, and move the consideration forward. The motion was approved by Linville, Costner, Bowers, Lollis, Wilson, and opposed by Saitta. The actual improvement process will take 8-10 years from funding, to land acquisition, to engineering.

Then the council discussed funding for the Pickens County Museum flooring citing there is a potential source of funds that can accommodate, i.e. a collected local accommodation tax. All voted in favor of pursuing this funding.

Finally, the council talked about the importance of the Executive Session, defining the intent for the public, the limited nature and defined scope of the session, and the significance of confidentiality. The narrow limitation of executive session is to discuss issues of personnel due to privacy, contractual matters when it comes to active negotiations, security issues as to the features of the building, and perhaps matters involving attorney-client privilege. It was decided that new council members should be brought up to speed on current issues and discussions in Executive Session, and council members will act with trust and decency in regards to the confidentiality of the Executive Session.