State of emergency declaration extended

PICKENS — Pickens County remains in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

County council voted Monday evening to extend the state of emergency declaration until council’s May meeting.

“Since March 20, we have been in a state of emergency in Pickens County,” acting county administrator Ken Roper said. “We are now up to 19 active COVID-19 cases in the county. Government is still functioning. We’re going to what I would describe as extraordinary efforts to give service to the public.”

One way the state of emergency declaration benefits the county is it allows private health care partners to receive assistance, Roper said.

“We’ve given out a couple of distributions from our Strategic National Stockpile, that was delivered to us by the South Carolina National Guard,” he said.

The declaration allows temporary personnel to be hired for the county’s Emergency Operations Center.

It suspends the limit for daily expenditures, to purchase “resources to protect the health and safety of the public,” Roper said.

“It also allows me flexibility to purchase needed equipment pertaining to the employees and the administration building to sustain the county during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The emergency ordinance allows the formation of task forces compromised of county employees. Some of the task forces have been assisting Pickens County Meals on Wheels, Roper said.

“We know, particularly during this time, that the folks out there in the community need those meals delivered,” he said.

Roper is keeping a log of the emergency orders he’s issuing during this time.

“After this is over, I want you gentlemen to be able to review all of the actions that I took that I considered outside the bounds of normal day-to-day operations,” he said.

Councilman Trey Whitehurst asked if those orders could be published so the public could be aware of them and if county council could receive in a report “what we have spent beyond what would be in our budget.”

Roper agreed.

“That money is being tracked carefully … because we’re going to apply for reimbursement of those expenses,” he said. “I’ll be glad to put out that information.”

Roper said he’d be signing paperwork that allow the sheriff’s office “to get in line” for $60,000 in grant funding related to coronavirus response.

Emergency ordinances can be enacted with one reading, he said.

Councilman Wes Hendricks motioned to extend the emergency declaration, provided that a section of the ordinance regarding guns be removed.

“Pickens County residents do not need to have the fear that anything is going to happen to their guns,” he said. “This council will not do anything to people’s guns. We will not try to take someone’s guns from them.”

Council chairman Roy Costner made an amendment to send the emergency ordinance to committee of the whole “once this thing is over.”

“We can take a look at our entire emergency ordinance to ensure that it has everything in it to protect the citizens, but also that we’re looking at each item by item,” he said.

Costner’s amendment passed, and council voted unanimously to extend the state of emergency.

“All the county facilities at this time, including the Pickens County Courthouse, administration building and all county parks,” Costner said.

While county facilities are currently closed to the public, “all departments remain fully operational,” through phone or email, he said.

“Please find more information on the Pickens County website at,” Costner said.