By David Meade
During their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Pelzer Town Council heard comments from five residents, heard an update on grants and announcements that Pelzer and West Pelzer plan to combine their sewer departments into one department for both towns and that Public Works Head Brad West is leaving.
Two residents of Goodrich Street complained of serious problems on the street including drugs, fighting and people walking the streets at two or three in the morning. There was mention of a dead hog that was on one porch for four or five days and after numerous phone calls to different agencies, nothing was done about it.
Jimmy Harrison asked about a referendum on taxes and made comments on “How bad Pelzer is getting.”
Bill Davis asked about bidding on the Master Plan the town is undertaking soon.
Mayor Steve McGregor responded to Harrison and Davis that there would not be a referendum on taxes and that the Master Plan project would have to be advertised.
Vickie Shirley said she recently attended a council worksession and thanked council for their efforts. “I want to thank you,” she told the council. She then added, “They truly have our best interest at heart. Maybe it takes too long, but they deserve our respect.”
Brad West thanked the council for the last seven years he has worked for the town. “I appreciate your support. I learned a lot.” He also thanked the citizens. West will be taking a sales position with JetVac in March.
In his last update to council, West said that four houses on Reid Street are on a one inch sewer line and four on Birch Street are on one line tied into an eight inch line. He said remaining funds from the Phase 2 sewer upgrade will be used to address both situations.
Mayor McGregor announced that Pelzer will be combining the public works department with West Pelzer.
Pelzer and West Pelzer officials have had several meetings to discuss their sewer infrastructure and to how the two towns could work together. Following a meeting on Friday, it was decided that the two towns will combine their departments based on an agreement in which Pelzer pays fifty-five percent of the costs of all joint services, salaries and benefits and West Pelzer will pay forty-five percent.
The 55/45 percentage is based on the number of water customers each town has. Pelzer has approximately 590 customers while West Pelzer has approximately 400 to 410 according to West Pelzer Water/Wastewater Superintendent Michael Mahaffey, who will head the combined department.
West Pelzer currently has one other person in their department.
One additional entry level person will be hired to assist in the department, according to Mayor McGregor.
McGregor said combining the departments will result in a cost saving to both towns.
“We have been trying to find opportunities to bring costs down for Pelzer to survive,” the mayor said. “Hopefully this will be a step in the right direction and will help both towns.” (See West Pelzer story for more details)
Councilman Will Ragland reported that a work day held Saturday at the old hospital building went really well and that some items that were in the building were sold for a few hundred dollars. He said eight or so people helped with the cleanup which included taking down some sheetrock and cleanup, primarily in the front room “to start the process to revive this old building.”
He said the next step is to reach out to some major donors through the Revive Pelzer non-profit that has been formed to raise funds for restoration of the historic building.
Ragland said he plans to meet with someone who is experienced in raising large sums of money.
Council approved a resolution regarding a PARD grant match. The resolution and receipts for related expense is required by Anderson County to receive the funding. The PARD grant was presented in October House District 9 Representative Anne Thayer and Senator Mike Gambrell on behalf of Senator Billy O’Dell who passed away last year.
The grant for town improvements requires a 20 percent match and is being used for a deck and awning at the community building.
Mayor McGregor announced that the next Citizens Input Workshop will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday Feb. 28. He also reported that the ARC grant application for funding the Master Plan did get sent in and that the town is now a member of the Palmetto Business Association.
He also said that information required for the next census to reflect the expanded Town of Pelzer had been submitted and that the larger footprint should help the town when applying for grants.
Town Clerk Heather Holcombe will be attending a seminar on Community Development Block Grants.
McGregor also announced that a Charette will be held Mar. 7-9 to gather input for the Hwy. 8 Master Plan. Pelzer and West Pelzer jointly received a MASC grant for the Hwy. 8 Master Plan project.
The Charette will be held in the Community Building and various people and representatives in the community will be invited to participate in the round table discussions, he said.
Council then went into an Executive Session to discuss personnel and receive legal advice. No additional information was provided.
Approximately 12 residents went out to the parking lot for about 30 minutes while the council was in executive session inside the Community Building.
Upon returning to regular session, McGregor announced that no action had been taken.
The Town of Pelzer office hours will change beginning Feb. 27. New hours for Town Hall and the Water and Sewer Department will be Mon. – Thurs 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fri. 8 a.m to 12 noon.