By David Meade
During their first meeting of the New Year, Williamston Town Council again postponed taking action on a request for a shed at the Gray Drive Park, tooks steps to annex the new Family Dollar property into the town and approved a resolution honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by designating a heavily traveled street in his honor. Council also heard committee reports including an update on the new Main St. Program.
Main St. SC gearing up
Caroline Alex, Executive Director of the town’s new Main St. Program, reported that the program’s National Directors will soon have recommendations for a mission statement and first year plan for the town. The recommendations will come from input gathered during the two day Baseline Assessment held in December.
Alex said 65 people attended the six sessions and she was “impresssed and grateful for those who did come.”
Alex said the thirteen member Main St. Board has completed a vision statement and that everyone involved is very optimistic. “It is very encouraging for those who have put time into this,” she said.
The Main St. Board is also in the process of populating the four committees for the program which include Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Restructuring.
Alex said she will be attending training sessions with the Main St. Program in Columbia this week and in Manning Jan. 30. The Main St. SC architect will be in Williamston Jan. 15 to view the town and make recommendations, she said.
No More Funeral Escorts
Police Chief Tony Taylor reported that the town will no longer provide funeral escorts because of liability issues.
Capt. Kevin Marsee said the department had been reviewing laws and guidelines across the state and the country and basically found that funeral processions have no preference when going through traffic signals. He explained that if a vehicle going through an intersection was hit by another vehicle that had a green light, the town and police department could be liable. Also the vehicle going through the red light is technically breaking the law.
John Gurley of Cyber Solutions presented information about the town’s redesigned website which will go live later this month. The site will include information about the town, video and social media links.
Chief Taylor presented officer Steve Clardy with a plaque recognizing 25 years of service to the town.
Three reserve officers, Claude Anderson, Randall Caldwell and Tony Garcia were presented reserve badges.
According to Taylor, the officers completed intense training and testing through the SC Criminal Justice Academy to achieve the status.
Chief Taylor also recognized Capt. Marsee who he said has put in a tremendous amount of hours as a salaried member of the department’s command staff. Marsee was given a plaque recognizing him as the 2013 Officer of the Year.
Christmas Park and Deck the Halls organizer Dianne Lollis presented plaques to the winners of the best display and best trees from the two events.
Lollis also recognized the local motorcycle club and Cedar Grove Elementary School for their support of a toy drive which provided 96 toys for local children who may not have received anything for Christmas.
Councilman Otis Scott reported that after checking with Anderson County, he was told there was no money available to help with a requested shed for Gray Drive Park.
Scott made a motion to have the funding of $5100 come from the Hospitality Tax fund, but after considerable discussion about the use of the park and how Hospitality Tax monies can be spent, he withdrew the motion.
Although no official vote was taken, the consensus was to look at placing funding for the project in the 2014-15 budget.
Council unanimously approved second reading on a cable franchise ordinance raising the franchise fee to 5 percent.
Council unanimously approved a resolution designating North Hamilton St. from Hwy. 20 to Palmetto Road as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Drive. Signage designating the honor will be placed in the future.
First reading was held on a petition to bring the property on Hwy. 20 where the new Family Dollar store is located into the town limits. The property includes 1.03 acres between Anderson Drive and Foster Road and will be zoned Highway Commercial. A public notice of hearing is published in this week’s Journal. Second reading on the annexation will be held at the March meeting.
After considerable discussion, Council unanimously agreed to hold the town’s annual Freedom Celebration and fireworks show on Saturday, July 5.
During public comments, former mayor Phillip Clardy, representing the Williamston Cemetery Committee, thanked the town for support of the candlelight service the group held at the Williamston Cemetery in December.
W. L. Cantrell thanked the town for their support of the Pig in the Park Cookoff festival which will celebrate its fifth year when it is held in May.