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Elgin gets update on flood recovery efforts

Also, Blaney-Elgin Historical Society requests financial assistance for museum upkeep

Posted: October 8, 2015 6:43 p.m.
Updated: October 9, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Tenell Felder/C-I

Blaney-Elgin Museum and Historical Society President Shirley Miles presents floor plans for the proposed Blaney-Elgin Museum to Elgin Town Council during its meeting Tuesday. Miles asked the town to pay maintenance costs at the proposed museum.

Elgin suffered much of the effects of this past weekend’s heavy rains. Like the rest of the county, Elgin is in recovery mode, and Elgin Town Council received an update from Kershaw County officials during its meeting Tuesday evening.

Kershaw County Councilman C.R. Miles Jr. reported the county’s sewage system, fire service and utilities were mostly unaffected. He also distributed to council a list of affected roads and bridges prepared by fellow Councilman Dennis Arledge. 

“Yesterday morning, we had about 64 roads closed in Kershaw County. That’s been updated to 10 this morning. Four county bridges are closed, three state bridges, 14 county roads and 22 state roads. Kershaw County did not experience any sewage leakage with the county sewer system though Lugoff-Elgin Water Authority did have a couple leaks … we had to relocate Doby’s Mill fire trucks because of flooding in that area.” Miles said.

Miles asked anyone who had been affected by flood damage to call the Flood Damage Report Hotline at 425-7242 to report damage or request assessment. 

Emmons expressed council’s thanks for county council’s assistance in keeping Elgin residents up to date on road closures and flood conditions.

“We have been in constant communication with Kershaw County Council since this event started and I cannot sing enough praises for Kershaw County Council. They have … worked so hard and nonstop between the firemen, police officers, public works and utility companies … I personally would like to thank Kershaw County for the job they have done. We have a great group representing us with our council members and our chairman, they have kept us constantly informed,” Emmons said.

Emmons and council also thanked the Elgin Police Department for its assistance. 

“We want to commend our own police department. Sunday, when the retention pond flooded in Brentwood, we had three to four homes submerged. At that moment we had to assist one resident, a 67-year-old woman, out of her home and one of our officers was at the scene and assisted her,” Emmons said

Council also scheduled a workshop for Monday at 6 p.m. at Elgin Town Hall to discuss policies  and procedures for Elgin’s Citizen of the Year award. The meeting will be open to the public.

Councilwoman Dana Sloan asked to discuss guidelines and the process for selecting the town’s citizen of the year.

“There has been discussion on trying to set forth very simple guidelines for citizen of the year,” Sloan said. “I think right now we have a procedure as far as submitting a letter … and there has been a process on selecting judges but there has been discussion about a bit more community involvement, a bit more guidelines as far as what people do and do not want.”

The town of Elgin is currently accepting nominations through Nov. 6 for citizen of the year. Currently, the form asks for the nominee’s family, education and employment background; professional involvement and activities, and civic and church involvement. Forms can be mailed or bought to town hall.

“I know we have the deadline coming on us pretty quickly, but we have some great outstanding people who do some wonderful things in the community we definitely want to recognize them. It’s a great opportunity to recognize people but to make it better,” Sloan said.

Elgin Mayor Melissa Emmons asked Town Clerk Melony Hudson-Martin to explain citizen of the year procedures.  

Hudson-Martin said she selects judges to read the nominations but does not decide herself on citizen of the year. Nominations are submitted from the community.

“It is my understanding the procedure has been in place for years … there is a form with all the guidelines. That form is on our website and it has always been the clerk’s position to choose three judges -- typically pastors -- and they are to remain anonymous so there are is no conflict or personal feelings involved. The nominees come in -- those are kept private as well. The clerk makes no decision on how the person is chosen and the judges are instructed to keep it private,” Hudson-Martin said. 

Councilman Brad Hanley said, to his knowledge, no complaints about the process had been made but suggested the procedures be looked over again. 

“It might need to be more transparent -- but not the judges -- we want to protect the judges so they are not under any undo influences,” Hanley said. “I do remember people asking who else was nominated, who else was in the running for it. I think the idea is there is no favoritism involved and everybody has a shot based on the merits of the write up people do on behalf of the person they nominate. Council, I think, wants to set up the process. Here’s the chance -- we can improve on this process maybe and we can … be more transparent about who is in the running, who is eligible and any other things we want to do on the front end.”

Elgin Police Chief Harold Brown cautioned council against creating strict guidelines for citizen of the year.

“Too much control can backfire. Elgin is a small town, a common sense town. The past winners are on the board, we don’t exclude anyone,” Brown said. “If anyone in the community wants to know something, they can come in and ask … we’ve never had a clerk who refused to talk to anybody.”

Councilwoman Candy Silvers said she didn’t think council was trying to impose strict guidelines but said she disagreed with people in town winning the award twice.

“I think there are enough people in this community where no one should win it twice,” Silvers said. 

Emmons said she supported the current policy.

“I would like to go on the record stating the current policy has worked for close to 20 years. We have a procedure in place established by a former mayor. I asked the former clerk if she had received any complaints -- she had not. I just feel that our citizens are capable of nominating who they want to represent their community,” Emmons said.

Councilman Ed Smith and Sloan said council needed to consider whether an elected official could be eligible for the award. Sloan said she believes it would be permissible for a past official to be awarded. 

“When you are an elected official, it puts you in a position where you have a lot more opportunity to be a part of groups, committees, clubs and organizations that a normal town citizen would not have. I do think there is a difference, to be a former elected official,” Sloan said.

Also Tuesday, council opened sealed bids for garbage and landscaping services for the town. Council voted to accept a bid from A Cut Above Lawn Care for the town’s landscaping.  

“As far as I know, we’ve been satisfied with the service we’ve been getting and this is within the price range we were thinking anyway,” Hanley said following a discussion concerning getting specific costs for two of the other submitted bids.

Meanwhile, council voted to look into the bid for garbage service without accepting it this month.

During new business, the Blaney-Elgin Museum and Historical Society asked council to consider paying for the upkeep and maintenance of the proposed Blaney-Elgin Museum. The society, which is a nonprofit organization, is currently raising money to cover the costs of building the museum. 

“We realize the importance of preserving our history for future generations; we would exhibit early artifacts from the farming community days,” Committee President Shirley Miles said. “The museum would resemble a train depot because the railroad was an important part of our early history. It would honor our veterans, display our former businesses in our community … things that have made this community what it is today. Our committee is therefore requesting the town’s financial support to maintain the building once we raise enough money to build it.”

County Councilman Miles and former Elgin Mayor Pete James asked council to consider maintaining the building and moving the project forward.

Hanley asked Miles several questions about the size and function of the museum and the cost of upkeep. Silvers inquired as to the legality of having the museum maintained by the town but having proceeds go towards the museum committee. Silvers said she wouldn’t mind having the committee receive the profit, but questioned the legality of doing so.

Emmons suggested a workshop to discuss further the matter. 

“I would suggest we schedule a workshop and bring your guys aboard so we can actually sit down and go over the numbers, discuss an estimated operating cost and the size of the different rooms so we can make a clearer decision,” Emmons said before requesting Miles give her a list of dates that would work for her and the committee.

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