Pelzer Mayor Pro Tem lays out issues for Town Council to address

During Work Session
By Stan Welch
Pelzer Town Council held a workshop Tuesday, and Mayor pro tem Will Ragland came prepared. He presented a long list of topics and issues that he felt the Council needed to address. Following the workshop, Ragland filed to run for the Mayor’s position in the special election. It was the first day that filing was open. A  prior member of the council, Ragland recently regained his former council seat in last November’s election.
Due to the resignation of Mayor Roger Scott and Councilwoman Olene Bear, both effective on January 1, the council is currently awkwardly configured until a special election at the end of March. Two members constitute a quorum of the three member council; a circumstance which makes even a casual meeting seemingly suspicious. Ragland explained that the inability to meet and discuss town business under the strange circumstances had led to calling for the workshop, so that some issues could be discussed prior to next week’s council meeting.
He was reassured by the only reporter present that a casual meeting of two members would not be problematic, while a meeting of all three members would.
Ragland began his laundry list by suggesting that the physical configuration of the council’s seating at meetings be restored to place them at the far end of the room instead of right at the entrance. “With the world we live in today, you can’t be too careful.” He also suggested having an officer present specifically for council meetings.
He addressed the issue of the often chaotic meetings by suggesting that the traditional structure of such meetings be followed. He acknowledged the need  for a public comment period, but stressed that during the meeting the public should refrain from engaging council members or each other in discussion. “It will make for a much more efficient business meeting, which is what these council meetings really are.”
The sale of a surplus vehicle the town received from the county some time back was also discussed with general agreement that it offered nothing to balance the cost of keeping it insured. While no votes can be taken in a workshop format, it seems likely the question will be on next Tuesday’s agenda.
Ragland next brought up the idea of selling the land where the town’s lone cell tower is located. The cellular company currently leasing the land has offered seven hundred thousand dollars to buy the land, as opposed to the existing lease which has thirty years to run. Ragland suggested that the lump sum would be much more useful to the town in addressing some upcoming expenses and projects.
Needed repairs on the roof of the ball park concession stand have attracted no bids, a matter that led to a review of he town’s bid procedure. Councilman Waits questioned why ads seeking bids that he and former Councilwoman Bear had specifically written were altered before they were published, leading to confusion over what was expected of the contractors who eventually did the work.
Bear also stated that town clerk Cheryl Boudreau had failed to run the ads in more than one paper, on the grounds that it was too expensive. Bear expressed concern that the restricted advertising might be a cause of the failure to get bids.
Other comments indicated a concern that favoritism might be at work, as well as unpublished information about the monies available for certain projects being provided to some potential bidders, who subsequently tailored their bids accordingly.
Ragland further informed them that the town’s hospitality tax revenues currently total $89,000, adding that he would like to spend some of that money on replacing lights in the gym, putting in a water fountain and repairing the women’s restroom. He also expressed his opinion that some of the money should be used to create or strengthen Pelzer’s brand as a town and community.
“Perhaps we should seek bids from an advertising firm. I’ve had a number of people say that they want the town to be clearly distinguished from West Pelzer. So maybe we need to have some people who do this professionally take a look at it.”
Councilman Mike Matthews mentioned local artists who could offer some ideas and maybe draw up some sketches.  Ragland agreed , adding that the message should be one of community pride and a sense that the town’s best days still lie ahead.
Next Tuesday’s council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 at the community building behind BiLo.