County council discusses public information position

By Ben Robinson
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — As Pickens County Council discussed its fiscal year 2015-16 proposed budget on Monday night, councilman Neil Smith proposed that funding be set for a proposed position of public information officer.

Councilman Trey Whitehurst objected to the new position.

“I feel that public relations is the job of council,” Whitehurst said. “We have to deal with criticism every day. I am not in favor of bringing in a public information person.”

Smith said the new person would not simply respond to criticism but to such questions of whether a road is a state road or a county road.

“And there would also be grant-writing responsibilities,” Smith said.

The proposal would simply allocate funds for the position. Council has to define the duties of the position and then hire someone qualified to fill the position. This would only make sure funds would be available if needed.

Whitehurst said that since the vote would not necessarily create the position, he would withdraw his amendment. Smith agreed, but since council chair Jennifer Willis had seconded Smith’s proposal, the motion stayed on the floor.

The motion passed on a 5-1 vote, with Whitehurst voting against it.

Councilman Tom Ponder was upset with recent state funding. Ponder noted that the state has required that many bridges be replaced in the county but has not come through with the funding.

“The press isn’t interested in covering the war on counties,” Ponder said. “They’ve got money from the lottery, and that money is supposed to come back to the county based on a percentage of revenue. They’re not abiding by their own law.”

Ponder said that somehow road money seems to go more to the south of Columbia.