Outgoing Pickens County Council members honored at last meeting

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

COUNTY — Last week’s county council meeting began with a special recognition of the council members who are moving on.

Unless a special called meeting is held, the meeting was the last county council meeting for council members Randy Crenshaw, Tom Ponder, Neil Smith and chairman Jennifer Willis.

A special recorded presentation was screened, highlighting some of the accomplishment of Pickens County Council over the last 10 years.

Achievements of council emphasized by the presentation included balanced budgets with no tax increases for more than a decade, public projects including the Captain Kimberly Hampton Memorial Library, the expansion of the county museum and the county’s recycling program.

“For 11 years running, our county has praise for our financial management practices,” the recording said.

Council was also hailed for making road maintenance a priority.

“In the last 10 years, Pickens County has paved over 200 miles of road, on budget and on time,” the recording said.

Another priority has been the Pickens County Commerce Park.

“All told, Pickens County has secured almost 1 million square feet of job-creating buildings, $250 million in private capital expenditures and the creation and retention of thousands of good-paying jobs, with even more on the way,” the recording stated.

“I wanted the public to be aware of what this council has accomplished,” Willis said. “I think it’s very easy in public service to point out where you wish things were better or where the shortcomings are. I’m very proud of the work this council has accomplished over the years that we’ve shared.”

12-14 Page 2A.inddWillis presented each of the outgoing council members with a plaque in recognition of their public service.

“You’ve been tireless, especially in your dedication to the fire service,” Willis told Crenshaw.

“You’ve been a fearless advocate for the community of Dacusville,” she told Ponder. “We’re grateful for all that you did, for the heart that you’ve put into this job.”

“Mr. Smith is our genealogical expert — he will tell you how he is related to everybody, in every way possible,” Willis told Smith. “We are grateful for the fact that he can tie us all together and tell us how tightly bound we are. Neil, we thank you for all of that. You’ve been a tireless advocate for this community.’

Councilman Trey Whitehurst then presented Willis with a plaque of her own.

“I came on council six years ago, wet behind the ears,” Whitehurst said. “She has always been on council since I’ve been on council and has taught me a tremendous amount. She’s been a great example to me in leadership, and I really appreciate it very much.”

County attorney Ken Roper then made a special presentation of his own, on behalf of county staff. Roper said that he was there “when it all began” — he administered Willis’ Oath of Office when she was first elected to county council.

Willis was the first woman elected to Pickens County Council and the first woman to chair the council.

Roper presented Willis with a special gavel in recognition of her achievements.

“Don’t use that in tonight’s meeting,” he told her.

“That is beautiful,” Willis said. “Thank you very much. I’m very proud of the work we have done.

“We may not always agree, but once we do make a decision we do back each other up — and we do always intend to do the very best for the citizens of Pickens County — and we take that very, very seriously.”