Councilman addresses abandoned mill project

By Rocky Nimmons

COUNTY — Many questions have been asked recently concerning an amphitheater that was started and then removed from the Hagood Mill historical site in Pickens.

The amphitheater was set to be used for events at the area’s tourist and historical complex, which features regular events each weekend.

Concerns arose when construction began on the project in early 2014 only to be halted soon thereafter, with only the footings for the structure and the support poles being installed and building materials delivered to the site.

In a special interview with The Courier, Pickens County councilman Randy Crenshaw shed light on the project and plans laid out for its future..

Crenshaw said that county council had originally voted in 2012 to appropriate $40,000 toward the project, and in 2013, $100,000 more was added to help fund construction.

“Getting the footers dug and posts up was all they got done,” Crenshaw said.

According to Crenshaw, council decided to put the project on hold after finding out it was going to cost much more than expected.

“We had only approved $140,000 to build the building, and when the project was started we found out it was going to cost $489,000, to the best of my knowledge,” he said.

Crenshaw said there had been a breakdown somewhere between council and former administrator Chappell Hurst about the location, and as a result the structure had been started in the wrong location.

“We had a problem with flooding in that area at a prior time, and there was a concern it would happen again,” Crenshaw said. “So we decided to pull the initial construction out and save the county the $489,000 and put the material in storage until a later date, when a better location and more funding is found.

“The county can’t afford $489,000 at this time.’

Crenshaw told The Courier that $489,000 was never approved. He said all of the building materials are being stored at the county stockade and the project will be revisited when council sees an option to do that.

“Naturally, it will have to be voted on,” Crenshaw said of restarting the project. “It will have to go up before full council and approved before we can decide if we will build it. Hopefully we will be able to look at the project again in a couple of years.”

The project as of today is estimated to have cost the county around $180,000, according to Crenshaw, but the county still has all the building materials, so all the money has not been lost.

“We still have the building materials in storage out at the county farm, and it is in dry storage,” he said.