Pelzer council approves Courtney Street rental; recognizes employees for service

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By David Meade

During their meeting Tuesday Pelzer Town Council heard an update from the Friends of Pelzer non-profit orgnization and agreed to allow rental of a building renovated by the group to the VFW of Anderson. They also recognized Shelby Stanton, Skip Watkins and B. J. Tompkins for their longtime service to the town.

Harry Marchant, who established Friends of Pelzer in 2007, presented information on the status and finances of the organization. Marchant headed an effort to renovate a building located at 100 Courtney Street which is considered historically relevant to Pelzer and was, at the time, in the process of being torn down.

Through his efforts and donations by a number of major corporations and local companies, the building, which once housed Chapman’s Cafe, was saved.

Updating the new town council, Marchant said he asked the council in 2008 to not tear down the building and after nine months of questions and consideration, the town approved a six month rent free construction lease of the building.

After $30,000 to $40,000 in renovations, the Friends of Pelzer would have a 10 year lease during which the building would be rented, providing “jobs or possible hope” for the town of Pelzer.

Marchant was able to secure $19,000 in donations from companies to help with the renovation, which took longer than expected.

Marchant said just as the renovation effort was completed, the economy crashed, making it difficult to continue getting donations.

Once renovations were completed, the building was rented to a new store that tried to make it but failed, and later to a church. He said the VFW of Anderson wanted to rent the building and use a grassy area behing the gym for special events. Marchant said the organization planned to have an inflatable bounce when they have special events for kids.

He also said they would be required to have a $1 million liability policy.

The current lease, which was signed while Kenneth Davis was mayor, runs through June 15, 2019.

Marchant said he was sure he could have the building rented during the period.

He told council that all work on the project has been volunteer and done for the community.

He also told council that Friends of Pelzer has approximately $25,000 which he said he wants to use “for seed money” for larger projects and could be available for matching funds required if a grant was obtained.

Marchant also praised Will Ragland for his efforts in establishing a theater company in Pelzer and the Pelzer Heritage Commission for continuing cleanup efforts on the brownsfield areas left by the mills.

He said he envisioned a water front park and farmers market in Pelzer and said that as Greenville expands, it could be amazing what could be in Pelzer.

Marchant, who lives on a family farm in south Greenville County, said he wanted to help local. “It has always been about giving back to the community.” he said.

Following a brief executive session at the end of the meeting, Council agreed to allow Marchant to move forward on leasing the Courtney Street building to the VFW.

In other business, Jeff Parkey Assistant Manager of Planning and Community Development for Anderson County told Council that the county had recently completed a Comprehensive Plan and will be providing information about it at public meetings scheduled in coming weeks.

He said the plan addresses future growth in Anderson County and creates a guideline for decisions and policy.

A public outreach meeting will be held in Pelzer at 7 p.m. on Tuesday August 2 at the Pelzer Community Building. The entire County Council District 7 including Pelzer, West Pelzer and Williamston residents, are invited. A joint Council District 3 and 7 meeting will be held at BHP High School on August 8.

Councilman Roger Scott said he and Brad West met with West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders about establishing a joint committee to oversee the sewer facility that both towns share.

He said the committee will stay on top of what is required for operations and complying with ReWa requirements.

West told Council that a representative of ReWa would like to meet with the council.

Pelzer Heritage Commission representative Gilbert Garrett told council the organization is planning a fall festival for the last Saturday in September and the Pelzer Reunion on the second Saturday in October. Garrett requested funding of $500 from the town’s hospitality tax to help pay for two signs to advertise the events.

Council recognized Shelby Stanton, Skip Watkins and B. J. Tompkins for their longtime service to the town.

Stanton ran the town’s senior citizen program at the Pelzer Community Building for many years and handled booking for the building.

Watkins has served as the towns clerk/adminstrator since 1992. He has recently retired but will continue helping the town if needed on a very limited basis.

Stanton and Watkins were both presented crystal appreciation plaques recognizing their service.

B. J. Tompkins was over the Pelzer Recreation program, organizing football, basketball, baseball, t-ball and cheerleading. Tompkins was on vacation and not at the meeting.

Mayor Steve McGregor thanked Stanton, Watkins and Tompkins for their years of service.