Merck choice natural, easy and smooth

Dear Editor,

On April 10, in a 6 to 0 vote, the Pickens County School Board named Dr. Danny Merck the new superintendent. Some asked why the school board didn’t implement a thorough search/selection process, examining many applicants, doing interviews and then making a selection? Actually, we did all that, but some may not realize it because the process began years ago.

The last few years, the board has focused on promoting from within, beit for assistant principals, principals, department heads and superintendent. Our district has a winning academic culture, being in the top 15 in the state. We believe those who spend years in our system and then are promoted to management are most likely to preserve that culture. Also we want to show employees, if they work hard, better their skills and perform well, they will be recognized and promoted, maybe even to superintendent one day.

In 2009, the board did a wide search, interviewing many then and current principals along with Dr. Henry Hunt, who was an administrator in the district office. In 2009, the board chose Hunt as superintendent. As Hunt neared retirement, thinking ahead, we sought out and promoted Dr. Kelly Pew to assistant superintendent of curriculum and Merck to assistant superintendent of administration. Hunt and the board realized Pew and Merck were superintendent material and would be ready for the job if they furthered/ added district office experience.

Under Hunt’s guidance, both Pew and Merck sharpened their skills and were readied for job. In 2012, Pew and Merck underwent a thorough superintendent selection/interview process. Both were top-notch and Pew was named superintendent. Pew performed very well in the job, and she’ll do as well in Rock Hill, and part of that will be due to the experience and opportunities she was given here in Pickens County.

Merck, being prepared and vetted, was the natural choice to be the next superintendent. We are confident he will do just as well. Among his many skills and traits, Merck is an outstanding administrator, has a strong grasp of the challenges public education faces, and has a keen sense for building community relationships.

I credit Hunt and my fellow trustees for thinking years ahead on this, pulling it all together, and making the selection of Merck a natural, smooth and easy one.

Alex Saitta

School Board Trustee


Thank you from Azalea committee

Dear Editor,

The Pickens Chamber of Commerce 30th annual Pickens Azalea Festival took place April 18-19 despite the rainy weather Friday evening and windy conditions Saturday. Friday’s evening events of live TV and car cruise in were scaled back due to inclement weather.

I would personally like to extend my gratitude to Pickens Mayor David Owens, City Council, Police Department, and Streets and Sanitation Department crew for their assistance in making the festival a safe environment for everyone.

Thanks to the several volunteer groups that assisted the festival committee, Pickens Senior Citizens, Roundtowners of Greenville, Boy Scout Troop 51, Women of Flame 81, PHS Science Class and Pickens County Emergency Medical Services. And to DeLayla Dodgens for performing the national anthem.

I am grateful to Pickens High School artist Caroline Parker, winner of this year’s azalea artwork, which appeared on all official references to the festival. Thanks to Jeannie Gilstrap and the Pickens Rotary Club for serving as sponsors of the azalea art contest.

The 8th 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 Sentinel and Pickens County Courier for publishing the annual Azalea Festival insert. To Grace Methodist Church and Bowers Transportation Services for donating the shuttle buses for the Hagood Mill tours Saturday during the festival. To Francine Bryson, Phillips Supply of Greenville and Michael’s Restaurant for hosting the first annual Azalea Festival Baking Competition, which saw more than 100 entries. And to Save-A-Lot for its donation to the vendors reception Saturday morning.

The festival committee extends our deepest gratitude to all of our sponsors, including WSPA-Channel 7, City of Pickens, Pickens County Courier, Bi-Lo of Pickens, Pickens Sentinel, SC Education Lottery, OWT,  Domino’s Pizza of Pickens, Phillips Supply of Greenville, J.R. Totman-signs, Stockade n’Stuff, Pickens Dental Associates, South Carolina Bank & Trust, Behavioral Health Services of Pickens County, Senator Larry Martin, Brock’s Department Store, Fairway Outdoor Advertising, TD Bank, K&J Security Systems, Home Depot of Easley, Cornell Dubilier, CMG Signs, Walmart-Pickens, Solid Gold, Save-A-Lot-Pickens, Perennial Garden Houses, Pickens Auto Repair, Michael’s Restaurant, Grace United Methodist Church, Bowers Transportation Services, Ace Hardware, Hampton Inn of Easley, Lowe’s of Greenville, Grooming Company, Cannon Hospital and Wendy’s of Pickens.

I personally what to thank a very dedicated group of people who volunteer their time and energy to make this festival a success, the Azalea Festival Planning Group.

It takes months of planning to put on an event of this magnitude. And to the Pickens Chamber of Commerce for serving as the official sponsor of the 30th Pickens Azalea Festival.

Russ Gantt

Azalea Festival Coordinator

In support of Davey Hiott as local rep

Dear Editor,

I have known Davey Hiott for a long time and have always supported him as my representative in district 4.

However, I have never needed his services in that capacity until I recently became involved with an issue that required State Legislative action.  I called on Davey for assistance, and he was extremely helpful.

I found that it was very useful to have a representative who has some seniority in Columbia, as he knows how to get things done, knows the right people to contact and has a working relationship with those people. I had the opportunity to talk to many of the State representatives.

They all first wanted to know what part of the State that I was from and the name of my representative. From these conversations, I found that Davey has a reputation of being a man of integrity, honesty and doing what he says that he will do.

Davey worked hard for me on my issue, and he allowed me to use his office in Columbia as a base while I was in Columbia, which was a great help. He gave me great constituent service.

I found that many of the State representatives could not be trusted to do what they said they would do and that those men and women will do what was expedient to get re-elected, regardless of the interests of their constituents. Davey is not that way and takes positions on issues based on the interests of his district and personal convictions.

There was another issue pending at the same time, and Davey was pressured by the Speaker of the House, who is the most powerful person in the State government, to change his vote. In spite of this pressure, Davey stood firm to his convictions and voted in the best interests of his district. We really should be grateful that we have a representative who will take a stand based on conviction and the interests of his district and will not deviate just for personal political gain.

I endorse the re-election of Davey Hiott. We have too few representatives in Columbia who will pursue a course of action because it is the right thing to do and who will not be swayed by personal political considerations. We cannot afford to lose the services of representatives such as Davey Hiott. I urge the citizens of district 4 to support Davey in the June Republican primary.

Jim Alexander