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ETC amends Elgin Citizen of the Year procedures

Posted: November 9, 2015 5:26 p.m.
Updated: November 10, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Tenell Felder/C-I

Elgin Mayor Melissa Emmons (second from right) presents Harriet Reid of the United Way of Kershaw County (center), with a copy of a proclamation designating Nov. 15-21 as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Council members (from left) Brad Hanley, Ed Smith, Dana Sloan and Candy Silvers joined in the presentation.

On a 3-2 vote, Elgin Town Council voted to amend procedures for the town’s Citizen of the Year award during its Nov. 3 meeting. The amended procedures now include making sitting council members ineligible to win the award. The revised procedure will go into effect this year.

Council members Brad Hanley, Candy Silvers and Dana Sloan voted for the change while Mayor Melissa Emmons and Councilman Ed Smith voted against. Emmons won the 2014 Citizen of the Year award while a sitting council member. A public workshop to discuss Citizen of the Year policy and procedures was held on Oct. 12. Council members were not in agreement as to whether procedural issues bought up in the workshop were intended to be changed this year or the following year. 

Mayor Emmons told council she previously stated that any changes discussed at the workshop would not go into effect this year because the process of selecting Citizen of the Year had already begun.

“It was made clear at the meeting that we were not going to change it for this year. That it would be for the upcoming year,” Emmons said.  

Hanley, however, said no such statement was listed in the workshop’s minutes and he did not personally recall the discussion resulting in postponing changing the procedures. 

Silvers said she saw no reason why the procedures could not be implemented now. 

“There is nothing in it that would stop us from implementing these (new guidelines). The advertisement (for Citizen of the Year) went out to get the nominations, so there was nothing on the nomination form that would change. The procedure (for voting) hasn’t been done yet and that’s what we were talking about changing, the procedure,” Silvers said.

Emmons stated she did not want to make changes to Citizen of the Year procedures because nominations had been accepted.

“The process has already started and it’s not fair to our citizens who have made nominations to now limit those, for this year,” Emmons said. 

Smith, too, said any changes made would need to occur for the following year. 

“If there were no rules listed, it is my opinion we should continue with the way things were last year and approve the changes for the upcoming year,” Smith said.

Emmons also said she was concerned if council could legally amend the procedure for Citizen of the Year because the item was not listed on the meeting agenda. 

“We have to keep in mind the new law … is very strict as far as amending an agenda after it has been posted,” Emmons said, and then cautioned council on proceeding with voting on changing the procedure. 

Sloan looked up the law and referred to the following section: “After the meeting begins, an item upon which action can be taken only may be added to the agenda by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting.” Sloan said she believed the matter could be voted on at the current meeting based on what she had read.

The new law also includes a requirement the matter be deemed an emergency or for there to be “exigent circumstances” (pressing or demanding) for an item to be added to an agenda. Hanley said he was under the impression the matter was urgent because the workshop to discuss it was scheduled closely following last month’s council meeting and because the voting process was about to begin.

“We had our council meeting (and) then agreed to have the meeting concerning this the next week. I don’t think any of us would have been in a hurry to have a workshop meeting the next week if we didn’t intend to put this forth and put this process in place for this time,” Hanley said.

Hanley also said the procedural change would give “regular citizens” a better opportunity to be selected for Citizen of the Year.   

“I think our thought was anyone on this body might be in a better position than a regular citizen to deal with committees … (and therefore) be in a better position to provide service to the town and have more opportunity than the average citizen,” Hanley said, explaining someone on council may be seen as having an advantage for being nominated or winning the Citizen of the Year award. “It seems like a conflict.”

Other discussion points concerning Citizen of the Year included whether or not an employee of the town would be eligible for the award and selecting prizes for the award. Hanley also asked council to consider adding a requirement that the recipient of Citizen of the Year demonstrated exemplary or meritorious service to the town.

During new business, the Mayor’s Award was awarded to Cub Scout Pack 316, Boy Scout Troop 316 and Power Up Girls ministries for their recovery efforts after last month’s flooding. Each of the groups collected donations and provided food to flood relief volunteers and emergency responders. 

“We had several groups that went above and beyond … little ones who stood out in the rain to collect supplies” Emmons said while recognizing the three groups. 

Also during new business, Emmons presented Harriet Reid of the United Way of Kershaw County with a resolution proclaiming November 15-21, 2015 as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week for the town of Elgin. 

Council also thanked Radiate Church pastor Brandon Goff on behalf of his congregation for doing a “complete face lift” on Grooms Garden during the church’s community service project. 

During old business, Sloan presented the Potter Community Park guidelines to council. The guidelines list the rules and regulations for using the park including setting quiet times and usage fees.

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