Daily Archives: 06/01/2021

Library official urges council to reconsider budget cut idea

To read the library board chair’s full news release, click here.

COUNTY — A proposal to reduce library funding and transfer operations of the county museum to the Pickens County Library System to free up funds for road paving has drawn the ire of some in the community, and library officials are asking county officials to reconsider.

According to a news release issued last week on behalf of library board of trustees chair Dennis Latham, Councilmen Alex Saitta and Henry Wilson presented a proposal at Pickens County Council’s May 11 budget workshop that would reduce the library budget by 0.6 mills — from 5.9 to 5.3 mills — to increase millage by the same amount in the general fund for

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Memorial Day ceremony honors county’s first Vietnam casualty

PICKENS — On Memorial Day, the community gathered at Charles Johnson Memorial Park to remember and recognize the service and sacrifices one Pickens family made to their country.

“You can now come to this location and tell your children and your grandchildren about Charles Johnson,” Mayor Fletcher Perry said.

A crowd came out Monday morning for the unveiling of signs dedicating the roads near the park to Specialist Fourth Class Charles Johnson, Pickens County’s first Vietnam War casualty.

Johnson was a member of A Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry of the U.S. Army and was killed in action on March 30, 1966, during Operation Lincoln in the Pleiku Province. He was 25.

Johnson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and is

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Bowers opposes tax hike in SDPC budget proposal

By Greg Oliver
Courtesy The Journal

COUNTY — Although Pickens County School Board trustee Phillip Bowers favors giving out pay raises in the upcoming fiscal year, he opposes a proposed one-mill tax increase that appears set to take effect in July.

“I was more puzzled than anything,” Bowers said. “Our revenues are up more than $1 million due to growth or economic activity. Plus, we got $40 million from the federal government to help with education just in Pickens County and,

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Mill impact

District spokesman Darian Byrd said the proposed increase does not apply to a homeowner’s residence or 4 percent property.

Byrd added a one-mill increase on a $100,000 6 percent property would be $6 more per year. On a vehicle appraised at $9,000, a mill increase would amount to 54 additional cents per year, and on rental property appraised at $75,000, a mill would mean $4.50 more per year.

Byrd said the state establishes a maximum millage increase school districts can raise each year based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index, plus the growth in population in the school district’s county.

Bowers maintains the school district should live within its means.

“The taxpayers have been very good to the school district, and we’ve made enormous progress the last seven years, and I don’t feel we should reward the taxpayers for all they’ve done with a tax increase,” Bowers said. “The $40 million we got from the federal government (for COVID-19 relief), there are restrictions, but it’s a tremendous amount of money to help with a lot of things in the classroom over the next two to three years. That’s why I’m puzzled they would ask for a tax increase given all the money coming into the district.”

While acknowledging the tax increase is a few dollars per year for every vehicle in the county, and the board has previously approved a tax increase once in the past 18 years, Bowers said that still doesn’t justify the decision.

“There’s never a good time for a tax increase, but certainly not when you have over a million dollars in economic growth coming in and $40 million from the federal government,” Bowers said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me to raise taxes on folks. The other thing is the rental properties, commercial properties and businesses, this is going to fall on them, and they’ve already had a tough year.”

Three readings are required before the proposed budget is final. The final reading is scheduled to take place at 8 a.m. Friday at the school district’s office in Easley. If approved, the budget will go into effect July 1 and run through June 30, 2022.

Local conservative activist Johnnelle Raines said a tax hike protest is planned outside the school district office before the 8 a.m. meeting on Friday, organized and promoted by Conservatives of the Upstate and the S.C. Freedom Action Network.

Easley YMCA developing new $17.5M campus

EASLEY — Before a large group of gathered community members, Easley YMCA officials announced the development of a new campus at its existing location in a ceremony last week.

According to a news release issued May 25, the new Easley YMCA will replace a 22,000-square-foot building that was originally built and opened in 1960 and renovated over the years.

Plans for the new Easley YMCA campus began shortly after the completion

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Only 5 COVID cases in last week of school

COUNTY — As they prepared to finish out the school year with virtual instruction this week, Pickens County students’ last week in the classroom was marked by the lowest number of COVID-19 cases in the district this year.

According to the district’s weekly update, no staff members and only five students tested positive for the virus last week, with 62 students and two staff members

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New marker preserves memory of Cherokee town


By Ron Barnett
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — The next time you ride down Shady Grove Road heading northwest out of Pickens, look off to your left after you cross Town Creek.

Gaze across the new crop of corn springing up out of the fields on the rich bottom land along the confluence of Town Creek and Twelve Mile Creek.

Take a deep breath and let your mind drift back in time. Go back 250 years or more and look again.

Yes, the cornfield is still there. But you also see little Cherokee children running along the creekside, and women

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Paying tribute

Instead of its traditional ceremony at Sunrise Cemetery, Pickens’ American Legion Post 11 hosted a Memorial Day event in front of the Pickens County Courthouse on Monday, paying tribute to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. The event drew a sizeable crowd and featured the posting of the colors by the Pickens High School JROTC and speakers including State Sen. Rex Rice and State Rep. Davey Hiott.

Easley residents concerned about growth, development

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

EASLEY — During Easley City Council’s May 10 meeting, several residents shared their concerns about proposed developments coming before council and the overall growth of the city in recent years, with some calling on the city to adopt a moratorium on high-density projects to better plan for growth.

Projects mentioned by residents during the meeting included

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PHS class of 1971 set to hold 50th reunion

PICKENS — The Pickens High School Class of 1971’s 50th reunion will be at The Lighthouse Restaurant Event Center in Seneca from 5-9 p.m. June 19.

The cost of $50 per person covers the cost of heavy hors d’oeuvres, a DJ and lots of wonderful time with old friends and classmates.

Payment can be made by mailing a check to Sharon Crowe, 389 Talley Bridge Road, Cleveland, SC 29635, PayPal to or Venmo to

State campaign encourages support for those in recovery

Behavioral Health Services planning community event

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

STATE — South Carolina has launched a new initiative aimed at helping residents understand that those with substance use disorder can and do recover.

The Embrace Recovery SC campaign officially launched on May 13.

Sara Goldsby is the director of the S.C. Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS).

“It seems like we get together too often to talk about the consequences of addiction and the negative impact of the drug crisis, but today we’re here to do

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