Courier Letters to the Editor

Bowers did right thing

Dear Editor,

As a legitimate delegate to the Pickens County Republican Party convention, I saw firsthand what went on and who the players were at the GOP convention. The group who caused the problems are the same people who show up regularly at Pickens County School Board meetings and criticize Phillip Bowers and other conservatives on the board for their recent votes to restore prayer and stop tax increases.

This whole issue is about pouring more money into education and slurring Bowers and other conservatives in the GOP who want to restore traditional community values and spend taxes wisely. I know this because among the delegates recruited were B.J. Skelton and Kevin Kay, who supported the massive Greenville Plan while on the school board. Also included was Tony Qualkinbush, who ran against Bowers and has spoken to the school board advocating more spending.

Since the convention, my committee has reviewed the list Rep. Neal Collins asked the convention to accept and found multiple instances where his recruits voted in Democratic primaries, donated to the Democratic Party and funded individual Democrats. The Republican Party does want to grow our conservative base, but we do not want to grow into a tax-and-spend party like the Democrats. Chairman Bowers made the right decision not to allow unverified delegates in the door, and the convention also voted not to add the delegates.

We encourage anyone who believes in the GOP platform to join us. Our platform is based on individual freedom, smaller, more responsive government, low taxes and Judeo-Christian values; not higher taxes and increased government intrusion like the group Rep. Collins recruited to our convention.

Weldon Clark


Pickens County Republican Party Credentials Committee


Open letter to SC elected officials

To whom it may concern,

I appreciate your willingness to serve our state and talk to your constituents. I have attended many public meetings and listened to many of you speak at various events. At some meetings, public input is allowed. All of you have attended enough public meetings and read the local papers enough to know who is going to appear before you and what they will say. It is the usual lineup of suspects who would prefer we use chalk boards in overcrowded, unsafe schools, make calls on a party line telephone and drive to work on gravel roads … ugh, we already do that, but I’ll get to that later in this letter.

In their view, inflation doesn’t exist, the population never grows and once you build something, it lasts forever and you never have to touch it again. Unfortunately, many of your fellow legislators agree or listen too closely to them. South Carolina is reaping the results of decades of decisions based on short-term answers to long-term issues. We are leaders in most of the worst and most embarrassing categories — educational funding and achievement, domestic violence, child welfare, condition of infrastructure, list of unsafe places to live, etc. The need for improvement in all of these areas is well known to everyone and threatens the economic future of our state. The president of Michelin North America called our roads a “disgrace” and hinted future expansion by his company may occur elsewhere if South Carolina continues to kick the can down the bumpy road.

Quite simply, it is time to invest in South Carolina for the long run. If you look at the most prosperous communities around the country and in South Carolina, they have some simple things in common. They place an emphasis on quality of life, education and basic infrastructure. You will never make money without investing money. South Carolina will continue to fall behind our neighbors and the nation if we continue to expect different results without making changes.

Unfortunately, the group of complainers will never be happy. The only reason you don’t hear from more reasonable, forward-thinking people is we all have jobs, families and responsibilities in our communities, civic organizations and churches, so we do not have an endless supply of time to constantly complain. We are the ones paying for and willing to pay for all the things they complain about.

Stop listening to the CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) people and listen to the real community and business leaders. Listen to the chambers of commerce and manufacturers and lead our state to a better future.

Kevin Kay


Not really a hard decision

Dear Editor,

Dr. Danny Merck was hired to be the superintendent of Pickens County schools last year and was promised the support of the school board.

His job was to lead one of the larger school districts in South Carolina. The first budget that Dr. Merck proposed was attacked and not approved. He was hired to lead our teachers and students to continued improvements, but do it without the necessary funding. I understand that the funds generated for the operations budget are the same as in 2003. Does this explain why we rank near the bottom of all districts in the state for per-pupil expenditures? Is this why our teachers make less than teachers in surrounding counties?

Has the household budget for anyone in Pickens County not increased since 2003? Why do some school board members brag about not raising taxes more than they do educational achievements? The proposed tax increase would cost the average taxpayer about $24, which is about the same as a cheap family meal. Are the parents of our students satisfied with the status quo or would they prefer that their children have opportunities second to none?

We get from elected officials what we demand of them, and if everyone who believes in educational improvement demanded that our board members support the man hired to lead and give him the resources he needs or be replaced, we could eventually succeed. Dr. Merck and Dr. Brian Swords, chairman of the school board, are experts in the field of public education, yet their ideas are frequently ignored or voted down.

I challenge you to learn how our schools are funded for debt reduction and how they are funded for day-to-day operations. The price of a meal or a tax increase of the same amount for improved schools — not really a hard decision.

George Whelchel


Hillary right for office?

Dear Editor,

Lately in the media there have been numerous critics jumping in on this question. But what is all the fuss about? Hillary is, by far, more than eligible for candidacy with a strong political background. From the beginning of her career as a successful lawyer to her time as the Secretary of State, Hillary has quite enough experience — perhaps more than any other candidate. With a potential strong, influential, platform on the wage gap, increasing taxes for the mega rich and enforcing Wall Street accountability, Hillary is heading in the right direction. So why do these critics continue to claim it is not yet Hillary’s turn?

The media tries to claim that it is partially due to her being First Lady during Bill Clinton’s troubling time in the White House. What the media often fails to remember is that she is still human. We all get angry, frustrated, sad, upset and any other emotion that could potentially be embarrassing. It is just human nature. How she behaved in her home during a difficult time in her life is no one’s business but her own. Others just cannot bear to see a woman in the White House. As a young female with interests in politics, I find this absolutely absurd.

Whether Hillary is the right person for the White House is up to the voters to decide. Who are the media to say whether she is or she isn’t the best candidate? I strongly encourage everyone to vote and let their voices be heard, no matter which candidate you choose.

Whitney Dixon

Clemson University

Thank you from Azalea Fest director

Dear Editor,

The 31st annual Pickens Azalea Festival took place despite some rainy weather Friday evening. Friday’s events of live TV and the car cruise-in were scaled back due to inclement weather. But sunny weather prevailed Saturday, and the festival was in full swing.

I would personally like to extend my gratitude to Pickens mayor David Owens, city council, the Pickens Police Department and the streets and sanitation department crew for their assistance in making the festival a safe environment for everyone.

Thanks to the several volunteer groups and individuals who assisted the festival committee — Pickens Senior Citizens, Roundtowners of Greenville, Boy Scout Troop 51, Women of Flame 81, PHS Science Class, Pickens County Medical Services and Miss Columbia Teen 2015 Abby Grace Keller. Thanks also to Payton O’ Kelley and Ben Owens for performing the national anthem.

I am grateful to Pickens High School artist Anna Alexander, winner of this year’s azalea artwork contest. Her artwork appeared on official references to the festival. Thank you to Jeannie Gilstrap and the Pickens Rotary Club for serving as sponsors of the art contest.

The ninth annual 5K Walk/Run hosted by the Pickens Women’s Association saw a very successful event Saturday morning, with more than 100 participants helping to raise money to benefit the Beverly M. Smith scholarship.

Thanks to the Pickens County Courier and Pickens Sentinel for publishing the annual Azalea Festival insert. Thanks to IWANNA for serving as sponsor of the Friday night cruise-in. Thanks to Golf Carts Outfitters for the use of carts for the committee, to Grace Methodist Church and Bowers Transportation Services for donating the use of shuttle buses for the Hagood Mill tours and parking Saturday during the festival. Thanks also go to Francine Bryson and Michael’s Restaurant for hosting the second annual baking competition and to Save-A-Lot for its donation to the vendors reception Saturday morning.

The festival committee extends our deepest gratitude to our sponsors — WSPA-Channel 7, City of Pickens, Pickens County Courier, Pickens Chamber of Commerce, Bi-Lo of Pickens, Pickens Sentinel, IWANNA, S.C. Education Lottery, Domino’s of Pickens, Totman-signs, Stockade n’ Stuff, Pickens Dental Associates, South State Bank, Kohls of Easley, Senator Larry Martin, Fairway Outdoor Advertising, TD Bank, Home Depot of Easley, Cornell Dubilier, Wal-mart-Easley, Solid Gold, Save-A-Lot Pickens, Michael’s Restaurant, Grace United Methodist Church, Bowers Transportation Services, Lowe’s of Easley, Grooming Company, Cannon Hospital, Wendy’s of Pickens, Araon’s Rentals, Moore and Ballew Oil Co., Habitat for Humanity, Golf Cart Outfitters, Cassell-Hendricks CPA,PA, Academy Sports, Panera Bread, Trilogy Salon and Spa, Clayton Homes, Trophies Unlimited, Stansell Towing, Earl Youngblood Insurance, Mike Holcombe’s Tire and Auto, Outback Steak House, Hendricks Fabrications, Bojangles of Pickens, MacRae Family Dentistry, Hardee’s of Pickens, Women of Flame, Pickens Animal Hospital, Behavioral Health Services of Pickens County and Brock’s Department Store.

I personally want to thank a very dedicated group of people who volunteer their time and energy to make this festival a success each year, the Azalea Festival Planning Group. It takes months of planning to put on an event of this magnitude.

Russ Gantt

Executive Director

Pickens Azalea Festival