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Calliham’s rises from the grave: County Council to vote again on purchase

A Column by the Editor
web posted August 3, 2009
COLUMN – Why do I get the feeling that the Edgefield County Council is stuck in the movie The Godfather with Don Corleone telling the county council they will not reject the offer to buy the Calliham property? The very property the council has voted down several times this year including one vote to never bring it up for discussion again. But, after a meeting last Monday morning with the Godfather, the matter is back on the agenda again for Tuesday night. Not only is it back from the grave, but a single vote will sink the county into debt in the neighborhood of $1 million.

How dare the county council not do as the Godfather tells them, after all, who do they think runs this county anyway? It’s an offer they’re just not going to refuse no matter how many times they say no.

The county council has consistently voted not to go forward with the purchase since January. The issue, already considered “dead”, rose again in April. Mayor Durham promoted yet another offer that was addressed by the council in executive session only to have them emerge and vote to end the negotiations for good.
Mayor Durham asked if there was an option for the county to make counter offers in the negotiations which led Chairman Kneece to state that there were several options offered and the county was refusing all of them. Kneece stated he did not see the benefit of purchasing the property and creating a debt for taxpayers and then expending funds to remodel an existing building when the county could build “everything we need” on property the county already owns.

Chairman Kneece then announced the matter “as dead as it gets”.

That lasted two weeks.

At the April 21 budget workshop and called meeting, the matter was back up for discussion. Another offer was presented to the county council; they met in executive session, emerged and once again killed the issue, for the last time. After the vote to end all negotiations (yet again), Councilman Rodney Ashcraft said, “I’d like to make a motion to make it permanent history.” The council voted 4-1 to never bring the Calliham property up again. “Alright, it’s over with,” Chairman Kneece stated, “it won’t come back.” 

The county council then subsequently voted to place the building on Railroad Street and in July they voted to hire an architectural firm to design the new office building.

In late May I began telling readers of the Wandering Minds that no was not going to be an acceptable answer and I warned in early June it would rear its ugly head again, and one month later, here we are.

I’m not going to attack all the lies that the people have been told by this council on this matter or the huge debt the county will incur by buying the property. We’ve done that for over two years.

However, the way this is being done, the stench of back room deals can be smelled two counties away.

Not only is there another deal, but Chairman Kneece has allowed the nearly two year old ordinance to buy the property to be brought up as a third and final reading. One vote, we own it and nothing short of a lawsuit can be done to stop it.

To make matters worse, the county council voted down the rezoning of two parcels of property owned by Hagler Systems and they are back on the agenda as well. It is as if a vote only counts if it receives the right outcome, otherwise it will just keep coming back up until the right outcome is gained.

The vainness is maddening.

Let’s hope at least three of the four members who have voted this down “for good” more than once can end this nightmare. After all, even The Godfather only had three sequels. We’re in the middle of “Dawn of the Dead Issue: Part Vll”.

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