Town approves request to honor King

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Drive

During their regular monthly meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved a recommendation from a five person committee to have a portion of Greenville Drive designated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Drive.

The committee is comprised of Councilmen Tony Hagood and Mike Looper, Ted Mattison, Steve Ellison and Frank Major.

Ted Mattison said the committee took suggestions from citizens and eventually decided that naming Greenville Drive is appropriate because the area was a black business district of Williamston between the 1920’s and 1950’s. “It was a booming area for black businesses,” Mattison said.

The committee recommended that the town proceed with the renaming, which will not change from Greenville Drive, but will designate a stretch of Greenville Drive with signs posted at both ends, as Martin Luther King,Jr. Memorial Drive.

The town will request that the Anderson County Legislative Delegation help make that change. A request for naming a stretch of highway must be approved by the state legislature.

Council approved the recommendation 4-1 with Councilman David Harvell abstaining.

Harvell said after the meeting he thought the mayor should talk with members of the Earl Wooten family about the street designation.

Hwy. 20 from the Anderson County line to near the connection with Hwy. 29 has already been designated as the Earl Wooten memorial highway.

The section being renamed will be a section of Greenville Dr. that is in the middle of the Hwy. 20 stretch that recognizes Wooten, a legendary sports figure of the Williamston, Pelzer area.

During Public Comments, Phillip Clardy raised questions about the town finances, stating that statements posted on the town website show the town is more that $369,000 over budget for 2011-12 year ended in June. Clardy said that Administration and Police budgets were the two areas most over budget.

He asked Council not to make budget adjustments for a clean audit. “Don’t amend the budget to make the audit look good,” Clardy said to councilmembers.

Councilman Mike Looper asked to make comments but was not allowed to.

Mayor Carthel Crout said dialog from the mayor and council are not allowed during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Councilman Mack Durham made a motion to suspend the rules of procedure to allow Looper to speak, however the vote was 2-3, with Coucilman Tony Hagood Councilman David Harvell and the mayor opposed to the motion.

Also during publice comments, Marion Middleton, Sr. raised the issue of whether the town sold the “common area” of a parking lot next to McDonalds when the town sold the old town hall property at an auction sale. He said that his research indicated that the town sold 1.32 acres which he maintains did not include the parking lot.

“It is not left up to me what to do about it,” he said. “I don’t think it was sold.”

The property was purchased by Town Square Center developer Jim Simpson during an auction held in 2008 when the town was experencing financial problems.