Town issues being discussed in council work sessions

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By Stan Welch

Williamston Town Council met for an informal work session Tuesday night, covering a variety of topics. The first issue that came up was raised by Councilman David Harvell and involved the town ordinance requiring three signatures on any checks issued by the Town.

Harvell complained that a check had been released with only two signatures. Mayor Durham explained that the third signature is designed simply to assure that Council is informed and aware of all checks issued, but for the check to be valid, only the signatures of the mayor and town clerk are necessary.

Durham stated that it was the Council member’s responsibility to either sign or not sign the check. “It is a matter of Council awareness and not part of the process” he said. Harvell apparently viewed the check, but did not sign it immediately. By the time he returned to Town Hall, the check had been released.

The discussion moved into the area of how the Council should interact in such cases. Durham reminded the Council that he is at Town Hall for several hours a day. “If you have a question or a problem, you know where to find me. Why wait until we’re in a public forum to spring things on me? I’m right here, and I answer probably fifty phone calls a day. I’d be glad to answer one more.”

The discussion then moved to the CDBG grant the Town recently closed out. Durham told the Council that the town’s engineering firm had dropped the ball and connected service to a line that had not received the final permits. As a result, the Town will be served a consent order which will result in a fine of approximately $2800. Durham said that it was his intention to require the engineering firm to absorb that fine.

He also reported that the process of seeking funding for the rehabilitation of the old train depot has begun. “The first step has been approved, with potential funding of $65,000, with an equal match from the hospitality tax revenues.” The grant would come from the Appalachian Regional Council, a division of ACOG. The project could include installing a kitchen, adding a stage to the outside of the building, and an almost total refurbishing of the building.

The Council discussed funding for the Fourth of July celebration, and Durham pointed out that the frequency and scope of various festivals and events designed to attract people to the downtown area have increased.

Councilman Rockey Burgess asked about possible CDBG funding for infrastructure projects and was informed that application can be made beginning in April, now that the previous grant had been closed out.

Items discussed at a work session held Feb. 11 included: Discussion on paving on Ellison and Hill St., a memorandum of understanding concerning lease of the armory for the Palmetto Cultural Arts Center, donation of fire fighting equipment by Duke Energy; water and sewer lines that need upgrades and funding for the Spring Water Festival.

The council is holding two work sessions during the month in addtion to the regular monthly meeting to discuss issues affecting the town. The meetings are open to the public according to SC Freedom of Information laws. Notice of the worksessions is being posted at the entrance of Town Hall prior to the meetings.

The next meeting of council is Monday, Mar. 3 at 6 p.m.