Courier Letters to the Editor

The Pickens County Courier gladly accepts letters to the Editor. Letters must be no longer than 500 words. All letters must be signed, including first and last name, address and phone number in order to be considered for publication. Only the name and city where you reside will be printed. Submission does not guarantee publication. We reserve the right to edit for content and length. No slanderous or obscene material will be accepted. Letters to the Editor and columns do not necessarily the Courier’s opinion. Send letters to

Thank you to Blue Ridge

Dear Editor,

Once again, thanks go out to Blue Ridge Electric for another job well done.

This past Saturday morning around 2:30 a.m. our power went off. At 5:30 a.m., the power was back on.

This was done by a crew out in the middle of the night in a snow storm.

Thanks again.

David and Barbara Holcombe


Seventh seat not needed

Dear Editor,

I read about bill H3346 to add a seventh seat to the school board. This bill (sponsored by Neal Collins, Davey Hiott and Gary Clary) is not needed. It will give Easley an unfair advantage, and it will lower turnout significantly when selecting some of the school board trustees.

Despite what some claim, there have been few tie votes, and most all have been settled in a compromise vote. Since the school board has had six seats, there have been more than 700 votes. Only 14 issues had a tie vote, and 13 of those ties led to compromises on the issue. The one issue that didn’t wasn’t an education issue.

Neal Collins has been pushing this for years, so it is not surprising the extra seat will be added in Easley. Easley already has the most influence on the board.

For instance, two charter schools wanted to start a second middle school in Easley and they were going to pay for the new building — no cost to the county taxpayers. Both times the district administration/Easley faction on the board ran them off. If Easley is given another seat, they’ll have the votes to build their own middle school and stick the bill to rest of the county.

We’ve done enough building for a generation, but in their minds, we need to do more.

This bill also adds run-off elections to the school board.

Think this through. We’ll have school board elections like on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Some of those elections will now be forced to a run-off two weeks later on Nov. 20. How many are going to vote in that run-off election just before Thanksgiving and after two years of a presidential campaign everyone is happy is over?

Instead of the turnout being 70 percent like it is on election day, the winner will be chosen on run-off day by 10 percent of the electorate.

Special elections will be worse. The last special election had four candidates and 7 percent turnout. Next time, if it has to go to run-off, the school board trustee will be picked by 3 or 4 percent of the electorate.

There is a good reason why Anderson, Oconee and Greenville do not have run-off elections in school board races.

How about legislation that solves a problem that actually exists? The problem isn’t the number of seats or that Easley needs more influence on the school board.

The problem is after the trustees are elected, they are unresponsive to the public. Look at the school board now. They are closing schools, eliminating classroom teaching positions and raising tax rates. No trustee would ever run on that platform, but that is what they are voting for.

The solution is making our school board and all our elected officials more responsive to the public. For starters, put this controversial idea of a seventh seat to referendum. Also consider two-year terms for school board members. Make the superintendent an elected position. Give the people petition/referendum power so they can strike down unpopular actions by the school board.

Alex Saitta


Teachers are freeloaders?

Dear Editor,

It has come to light on Facebook what a Pickens County School Board member, Phillip Bowers, thinks about public school teachers who collect a pension after retiring and begin devoting their time to being a child advocate as well as a grassroots activist who questions government elected officials about their decisions.

I had questioned his decision to reopen A.R. Lewis as an alternative school for behavioral problem children. He had originally told the taxpayers the rural low-population school had to be shut down because they didn’t have the funds to keep it open. But now they decided to open it back up for behavior problems. This means it will be fully funded for even less students than were originally housed as an elementary school.

After I complained, his response first was, “Dr Merck is a genius. I do care about what he wants.” In my mind, that means he will rubber stamp anything Dr. Merck wants, and that is wrong! I then responded his relationship with Dr. Merck reminded me of John McCain and Lindsay Graham.

Here is his response back to me — “Johnnelle, I don’t particularly care for Graham or Mcain, but I would rather be compared to people who actually get up and go to work every day than a government freeloader like yourself. Have you no shame? Sitting at home complaining while waiting on a government check to come in the mail? If Mcain at his age, and all he’s been thorough can still get up and go to work every day, you can too. But no, you’d rather sit at home and hone your complaining skills on Facebook while the taxpayers feed you.” Please note several misspelled words he used.

Does he think that not only teachers but all retired police officers, military personnel, firemen who are retired and earning a government pension are “freeloaders” as well and shouldn’t complain? Sure seems so.

I taught first grade in the public school system for 29 years and also on several occasions I held down an extra job on the side. But he thinks I don’t deserve to complain or collect my pension. I hope you share this statement with every teacher so they know what this school board member truly thinks about their hard-earned work.

Johnnelle Raines