County Council approves 911 request, turns down Gray Drive Bridge offer

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By Stan Welch

The Anderson County Council met in a special called meeting Monday to complete the agenda items they failed to complete at the previous week’s regular Council meeting.

The Council voted to bring the Williamston Police Department under the county central dispatch umbrella. Currently, the fire department and EMS are already dispatched through the 911 system, while the police received a relay of the 911 calls from central dispatch, and then dispatched town police officers themselves.

The Council also unanimously approved a resolution which declined to accept the Greenville & Western Railroad’s proposal that the county assume responsibility for the repair and maintenance of the Gray Drive Bridge in Williamston. The resolution also requests that the repairs designated in an earlier court order be effected within 90 days of the resolution’s adoption. (See separate story in this issue of The Journal.)

During the meeting, Chairman Francis Crowder moved briskly through the one page agenda, hampered somewhat by the persistent commentary and questions of District Two Councilwoman Gracie Floyd.

The council voted unanimously on first reading to change the ordinance pertaining to public notification of proposed zoning changes. The amended ordinance would double the range of notification for all property owners within a thousand feet, regardless of where the property owner might live.

For example, an absentee landowner from Georgia or New York would be notified of any changes, despite expressed concerns about the postage expense by Councilman Moore. Also, the Council member from the appropriate district would be specifically notified as well.

A proposed ordinance to change the way in which Council approves and bestows recognitions and awards to groups and citizens spurred more debate than one might expect. Currently, Council presents resolutions of recognition at the start of regular Council meetings. The awarding of such resolutions to various ball teams, school groups, and individuals, along with the mandatory photo op, can take as much as an hour before any official business takes place, depending on the number of resolutions on the agenda.

The proposed change would designate a separate meeting at 5:30 before each regular Council meeting, allowing a half hour to make a maximum of three such presentations every two weeks. Councilwoman Wilson and Councilman Moore opposed the change, saying that the earlier meeting might make it difficult for the recipients to attend.

As the Council moved into the area of public housing, as well as other issues within the purview of the planning and public works committee, Councilwoman Floyd became more vocal and aggressive. Ignoring Chairman Crowder, she repeatedly addressed herself to Councilman Tommy Dunn, whom she described as “the Council’s resident construction expert”.

She also challenged her absence from the ad hoc housing committee, citing her self described involvement in housing issues over her tenure on Council. “Why wasn’t I included on this committee” she asked, immediately answering the rhetorical question. “I think we all know why I was left off,” she said, in an apparent reference to Crowder’s position as chair of that committee.

When Councilman Wilson opined that Floyd has declined a chance to serve on that committee, Floyd flared back. “I did not ask to be left off this committee. I asked to be left off the two committees you were on.”

Wilson and Floyd have a long history of acrimony and animosity, which extends back more than a decade, when former administrator Joey Preston was still around.

She also sniped at Councilwoman Wilson as Wilson, chair of the planning and public works committee, led a discussion of the future of public transportation via the CAT bus system.

Grants which have subsidized the system expire next year, said Wilson, explaining that the challenge of funding a system which doesn’t serve the entire county will be challenging.

Floyd immediately repeated her frequent claim that if not for her efforts, there would have been no CAT bus. Wilson acknowledged that, but added, “We all have to work together to find a way to keep funding it.”