Presentations, comments result in packed meeting

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Williamston Town Council

By David Meade

During their regular monthly meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council heard an audit report, approved second reading on rules of council, revised a proposal to use the gymnasium for church services and heard several reports and presentations. The town also heard reports on public safety initiatives of the police department and an update on a new fire truck. (See separate story)

Council addressed the following business items:

During his presentation, Auditor Larry Finney, of Greene, Finney and Horton CPAs told council that the town had received an “Unmodified Opinion” which is the best they can get. In the past the term “Unqualified Opinion” was used. The Town’s General Fund revenues for 2013 were $2,470,000, while General Fund expenditures were $2,535,000, resulting in a $65,000 deficit.

Following an executive session, Council made changes to a lease proposal by Revive Church. Council approved the proposal, which will be sent back to the church for approval, with a 3-2 vote. Councilmen Scott and Harvell were opposed to the agreement which allows the church to use the Municipal Center gym for church services.

Mayor Durham said the revised lease allows the church to use the gym for worship services on Sundays from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The church will pay the town $1200 per month and the lease is for one year. A proposal to include permanent seating and providing sound equipment was taken out the mayor said. The lease must still be approved by the church.

Council unanimously approved new rules of council. There was some discussion about the deadline to place items on the agenda. Acting on a motion by Councilman Rockey Burgess, council agreed to a deadline of five working days.

Council tabled a request for funding for materials for a Born Learning Trail project.

Tammie Willmore, representing Leadership Anderson and the United Way, presented information on an interactive play and learning trail which includes ten activity stations where parents and caregivers can interact with young children for fun learning opportunities.

Cost for the material kit and some supplies is $1495. Councilman Burgess had some concern about the layout of the project.

Mayor Durham announced that council will hold a work session on Nov. 12 at 7 a.m. and at 6:30 p.m.

He also announced a Festival of Unity to be held in Mineral Spring Park on Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

During comments portion of the meeting, Councilman Otis Scott said he wanted to clarify what was published in The Journal last week about the Main St. program, stating that town council did not approve the recent hiring of a Main St. Coordinator. Scott, who was opposed to the program said, “I wouldn’t vote to hire somebody when I voted against the job.”

(Editors note: The Main Street SC program was approved by a 3-2 vote with Scott and Councilman David Harvell opposed. The position of coordinator does not have to be approved or voted on by council and falls under the hiring responsibilities of the mayor.)

Pamela Owens asked about a covered shed for the Gray Drive Park and about an update on the Gray Drive bridge situation.

Pamela Childress commented about not being able to get help to turn off a water valve when she had a water leak at her house and other concerns.

Three student interns from the Career and Technology Center were introduced during the meeting.

Co-organizer Mike Gowan told council that the town’s Veterans Day Parade will be held Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. beginning at Suntrust Bank. He said he is getting good support of the local event honoring veterans.

Mayor Mack Durham said the town is placing flags along Main St. and said he is excited about the parade on Saturday and “having the community come out and support our veterans.”

Councilman Tony Hagood said the MLK Jr. committee hopes to have a ceremony on Jan. 21 at the field at Palmetto Primary to celebrate naming a portion of Hamilton St. in Dr. King’s honor.

Information was presented on a new CommunityWorks Carolina program available in Williamston.

Marnie Schwartz-Hanley said the non-profit organization that promotes affordable housing, financial wellness and community economic development for low wealth families and communities. The program offers a variety of services and has an office located in the Williamston Municipal Center.

Representing the Park Committee, David Meade recommended council consider moving the Gist Rifle memorial from in front of the amphitheater in Mineral Spring Park. He also asked council to consider allowing an expansion of the amphitheater stage. No action was taken