An update on accomplishments and changes in Pickens County

To all Pickens County residents: It is an honor and privilege to serve you as the county administrator. I want to inform the public on the accomplishments and changes made within the past year in our community.

Early last year, the former Pickens County Council partnered with The Archer Company to produce a study to determine if county employees were being properly and competitively compensated for their work on behalf of taxpayers. This compensation study, which was broken into phases, recognized that county employees had not been given raises in many years. At the Dec. 5, 2016, meeting, a motion was made by councilman Trey Whitehurst, seconded by councilman Tom Ponder, and unanimously passed with councilmembers Neil Smith, Jennifer Willis, Randy Crenshaw and Ensley Feemster all voting in favor of approving funding effective Jan. 1, 2017, which included all general fund employees and the current county council members.

On Feb. 21, in a committee of the whole meeting, council vice chairman Chris Bowers made a motion to approve adjustments, as recommended by The Archer Company in the study, for the coroner, sheriff, auditor, treasurer, probate judge and clerk of court, which was not implemented by the former council. The motion was seconded by Feemster and unanimously passed as a recommendation to full council. During the March 20 council meeting, council voted and approved this change. The final phase of the study has yet to be voted on by county council.

Some of our county departments are also experiencing change. Last month, council approved Animal Control Ordinance 533. This ordinance created a county-operated animal adoption facility and transferred the animal control enforcement operations over to the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. This change will increase safety for our community, as well as encourage the welfare of our animals. All Animal Control officers will be certified through the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and appointed by the sheriff. If an animal is impounded, the ordinance explains the proper procedures that Pickens County will take to try to reunite an animal with its owner. Suitable animals that are surrendered will now be placed for adoption at the newly created adoption facility.

Switching gears, who can forget on Jan. 9, the Clemson Tigers defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship game with a 35-31 victory? Pickens County Council and community recognized and congratulated the hard work of all the players, coaches and staff who dedicated and invested their skills to this past season. Pickens County Council honored the Tigers by presenting the key to the county during a private ceremony. Throughout the 2016 football season, Clemson diligently competed, fully determined to become national champion. For those able to attend, it was a one-of-a-kind opportunity.

Most recently, Pickens County Council has established a Recreation Advisory Committee to ensure that county recreation funds are used in a manner that best serves the community. Through Ordinance No. 535, council voted to establish a process focused on accountability and transparency. The formation of this committee will create a more structured approach that will include an annual application process, the review of submitted projects by the committee in public meetings, and formal approval by county council.

Finally, council also voted to fund the new Tri-County Tech Student Center. The council believes the funding of this project will ensure economic development growth through the development of a well-prepared workforce for industries that choose to establish roots and thrive in Pickens County. The student center will receive funding to pay the debt service charges. This will eliminate the rise in tuition for Pickens County students who attend Tri-County Tech and encourage them to invest in Pickens County.

Pickens County is off to a great start this year, and I am confident we will continue to do great things.

Gerald Wilson is Pickens County administrator.