In Joint Meeting
By David Meade
Pelzer Mayor Steve McGregor started the Town Council meeting Monday with a belated “Happy Birthday” greeting to the town. The one year anniversary of the town’s annexation to include the upper and lower mill villages was July 18.
Since then town officials have been in the process of evaluating the town’s operations and meeting the needs of residents. One of the needs expressed by many residents, and for many on top of the list, is for some type of police protection.
In the past Pelzer has relied on the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department for any law enforcement needs and for a brief time prior to the annexation, there was an agreement with West Pelzer for some police coverage on the four or five streets that comprised the town.
Since the annexation, there has been some discussion about establishing a police department and Pelzer officials have discussed possibilities with West Pelzer.
West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders and Police Chief Mike Clardy did attend a meeting with Pelzer officials in May in which they offered a proposal to provide police protection for Pelzer.
Under the proposal presented in May, a new officer, complete with a new patrol vehicle, would be added to the West Pelzer Police Department giving them a full time force with four officers who would then be available to offer police protection in Pelzer.
The entire department including four full time, four part-time and four reserve officers would be available for both towns. The department would remain under the current police chief and Town of West Pelzer, with contract service for Pelzer.
There was some discussion about additional fines the department may generate and how they would be divided between the two towns, which will be discussed in future negotiations on the proposal.
Though the issue has been in discussion for both towns, there has been no official action until this week.
The Town of Pelzer and Town of West Pelzer will hold a special called joint meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 10, to discuss a contract for police protection.
The meeting will be held at town offices at 3 Hindman St. in West Pelzer.
The matter is expected to be discussed behind closed doors in executive session.
The agenda states *The purpose of this meeting is discussion only; no votes will be taken*
Pelzer Mayor Steve McGregor said town officials are looking at options, but offered no additional details about the meeting.
Also, In addition to their regular monthly meetings, Pelzer Town Council has been holding a series of worksessions and special citizen worksessions for citizen input.
During discussions in the council meeting Tuesday, there were several references to a workshop held earlier in the day.
There was no advance public notification of the meeting made to The Journal.
During the citizen comment portion of the council meeting, resident George Morgan brought up an issue concerning a manhole near his house.
Morgan said he was told the manhole, which had been covered with dirt, and sewer line had not been working for some time and questioned if he should have been paying for sewer.
After some discussion about the problem, Pelzer Public Works head Brad West said the manhole was compromised but that sewer was still flowing.
The manhole is on a lot which had fill dirt placed on it.
Councilman Roger Scott said when he purchased the lot it was already partially filled in.
Mayor McGregor asked West to check out the situation. He also said that new lines had been put in during the recent sewer upgrade project and that the manhole in question was not connected to the system.
Margaret Jameson presented several project ideas to the town including a flag pole and several Christmas related projects.
After citizen comments, West updated officials on the Phase 2 sewer project. He said crews had finished laying pipe but there was still a lot of cleanup to be done. He told residents to continue to send emails about problems and they would be forwarded to the contractor.
West also said a one inch water line had been replaced across a road.
Councilman Scott reported that a new sewer plant committee had been established including Mayor Steve McGregor and himself representing Pelzer and West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders and Councilman Jimmy Jeanes representing West Pelzer.
Both towns have responsibility for the plant. The committee will meet August 19 at 9 a.m. he said.
Council approved a local match of $1250 for a $25,000 Hometown Economic Development Grant which Pelzer and West Pelzer are applying for. Mayor McGregor said if approved, the grant will be used for a community master plan for the towns.
Councilman Will Ragland said it would not fund a complete master plan, but would be used to get started.
Council decided to leave a gate at the Pelzer Monkey Park open. The gate will be used only during special events being held in the park. There was mention that the issue had been discussed in an earlier worksession.
There was considerable dicussion about use of the Pelzer Community Building.
The town will allow not for profit groups to use the facility but will limit use to one time each month at no cost.
Council entertained a request by a local travel baseball team, Carolina Thunder, to use the Pelzer ballfields for practice. The team will maintain the fields, cut grass and take care of them during the lease, according to Councilman Scott.
Town Attorney Jimmy King said the contract needed to specify a length of time, that the team should be required to have a $1 million liability insurance policy and hold the town harmless for any lawsuit.
There was considerable discussion about a fall festival in the Monkey Park.
Larry Coker of the Pelzer Hertitage Commission said the festival was going to be called off but that “new resource” would allow it to be held.
Again it was mentioned that the issue had been discussed during an earlier worksession but that council needed additional time to consider. Apparently, from the discussion, the town was considering taking responsibility for the festival if the Pelzer Hertiage Commission (PHC) wasn’t able to do it.
There was some discussion about partnering of PHC and the town on the event.
Eventually Mayor McGregor stated that since council had already approved use of the park for the fall festival that the PHC should go ahead with their plans for the event. Council agreed.
There was some discussion about the dispersement of hospitality tax funds.
The town approved funding of $500 from the fund to help the PHC pay for two signs advertising the fall festival and Pelzer Reunion.
Town Clerk Heather Holcombe recommended that in the future, any requests for funding be submitted early enough to be included in the budget.
Council then went into a 45 minute executive session to get legal advice regarding a personnel issue.
Pelzer Town Council will hold a budget workshop at 7 p.m. on August 23.
There will be citizens workshop on September 27.