Mayor touts Liberty’s progress


An overhaul of Commerce Street, which plays host to festivals and other events in Liberty throughout the year, has been the biggest project in the city over the last year.

By Rocky Nimmons

LIBERTY — Liberty Mayor Eric Boughman is proud of what his city has accomplished in 2015.



During the final city council meeting of the year last week, Boughman delivered the state of the city address to let the public know about all of those accomplishments.

“We get a lot of negative things said about us, and I think it is important at least one time of year to point out the positives,” he said. “I want it out there for the public.”

Boughman said the mayor and council chairs were thankless seats,12-23 Page 1A.indd but said that he and the other members of Liberty City Council had signed up for it.

“I love this city, and I will fight for this city, and I am proud of what we have done for this city,” he said.

The biggest project Liberty has going is the work on Commerce Street.

“We had received a $500,000 grant right before I became mayor, and we have worked through the grant process over the last two years,” Boughman said. “We completed phase one, which was the infrastructure, earlier this year. That came in at $170,000 more than our original estimate. We covered that with hospitality taxes.”

Phase two is the above-ground element, such as the sidewalks and the green space.

“That went to bid in May, and that bid was $568,875,” Boughman said. “We had $367,819. We cut where we could and took C-funds to cover the overage. We got that approved on Oct. 26.”

But Boughman said despite being thrown curve ball after curve ball on the project, it will be completed, and completed as the city had wanted it.

Another huge project in the city was the completion of the magistrate court complex at the site of the old Liberty Middle School.

“This project is now done,” Boughman said. “The county did that work with cooperation of the City of Liberty. They renovated the gym, and the Pickens County Council voted to deed that over to the city.”

The school’s old auditorium was also renovated into a more modern facility, and all the county magistrate offices were moved to a third building on the campus. Pickens County Meals on Wheels also moved its operations into the campus, according to Boughman.

“We cannot put a price tag on what the complex means to the city of Liberty’s future,” he added.

Boughman said a third major project the city has undertaken was to replace 2,000 feet of sewer line from Rowland’s Barber Shop through the intersection of S.C. Highway 93 and U.S. Highway 178.

“We had planned to modernize this intersection for years, but it never happened,” he said. “Early in my term, it was determined that the South Carolina Department of Transportation was going to do their work, but it was up to city to replace the 1925 sewer lines that ran under the intersection.”

The original price to do the work was $319,000, and the city obtained a grant from the S.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority for $195,000. The project went out to bid last month.

“The bid was $525,000, and we rejected it and went back to the drawing board,” Boughman said. “We now have a new bid date of Jan. 12. Whatever we have to do, we are going to make that project happen.”

The project is planned to be completed in correlation with the work done by SCDOT.

“We hope that we will complete our work so they can come right in and do theirs,” Boughman added.

The Peachtree senior housing project is another project that the city of Liberty is hard at work on. Funding has been secured, and construction is scheduled to begin in early 2016.

“It will be a 40-unit senior housing complex behind the current location of Pickens County Meals on Wheels, and it should be done in early 2017,” Boughman said. “This will be for the residents that we already have living here.”

The city also feels it has made some wise purchasing decisions. A brush and limb truck was obtained last year.

“This has been a blessing to the city and to the residents that regularly have their brush and limbs picked up,” he said. “This year we purchased a brand-new trash truck, and it has been a blessing because we are not wasting time and money on repairs. We have a truck that works and is dependable that we can count on now and for years to come.”

The city has needed a new truck in the recreation department for some time, and that problem was solved by moving a full-sized police truck to the department.

Other savings for Liberty came in the form of a terminated copier deal with Toshiba, which had cost the city $1,483 a month.

“We did go to Xerox, and the biggest bill we have had was $200, so we are going to save $1,000 to $1,200 a month.” Boughman said.

Boughman said the city was able to acquire a house in disrepair in Lakeview Heights for nothing and accepted a sealed bid and sold it for $10,000.

The city has also installed cameras at its recreation facility, and as a result, major vandalism that was costing them thousands to repair each year has almost stopped completely.

In another movem the city decided to cut cost by eliminating the uniform service for employees and buying uniforms.

Boughman also lauded the county for allowing the city to take control of the old magistrate building near Ingles.

“Now instead of city court taking place at Liberty City Hall, we now have a real courtroom and more space,” he said.

Boughman said he is happy that the city has a healthy and happy workforce.