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Calliham’s: Buying the lie rather than facing reality
A Column by the Editor
posted November 30, 2009
COLUMN – On Tuesday night the ruling
majority of the Edgefield County Council will take the third and final
vote to buy the beleaguered Calliham property in spite of the ominous
over one million-dollar debt that will hit the taxpayers within the
next two to three years. There will be a public hearing held prior to
the vote, but do not count on any of the ruling majority to hear, much
less listen, during that period. They are following a fantasy, not
reality, and their minds are made up.
Since a fire mysteriously engulfed the entire Neighborhood Center on
Church Street in minutes almost three years ago, there has been one
objective, buy the Calliham Building. The champions of the push were
none other than Edgefield Mayor Ken Durham and Developer Bettis
Rainsford - joined at the hip as well through Edgefield Construction.
The county council voted in 2008 to buy the property but it had around
$800,000 in liens attached and the issues just fell from the radar.
Then the property went through foreclosure and lien holder (and family
member of the Calliham’s) Fletcher Lawrence picked the property up for
$50,000 on the courthouse steps.
Afterwards, Mr. Durham and Mr. Rainsford were back pounding their
agenda for the county to purchase the property but were repeatedly
turned back by the county council, now with two new members. Several
votes were taken on proposals championed by Mr. Durham, causing
Chairman Monroe Kneece to, not once but twice, claim the matter dead,
“It will never come back up again,” he said in April of this year.
During town hall meetings Mr. Durham gave estimates on how low the cost
of remodeling the building would be. He stated at the time the purchase
and remodeling would not cost the taxpayers “one dime”. He said the
cost would be around $300,000, he was wrong. He’s right on one point
however, it would not cost the taxpayers “one dime”, it will cost them
over 15 million dimes.
The estimates from an independent
architectural firm placed initial
costs at well over $800,000 and a final cost at $1.7 million and
rise to $1.9 million.
But the ruling majority of the county council wants to believe Mr.
During the same town hall meetings Mr. Rainsford stood and explained
the county had to buy the property so it could expand the jail and law
enforcement center that housed the Sheriff’s Office. He gave all types
of information on the matter, all of which
turned out to be blatantly
But the ruling
majority of the county council wants to believe Mr.
The numbers released from the architectural firm 2KM also included the
cost of a new building on Railroad Street that would come in below the
cost of the available insurance, or roughly $625,000.
But because Bettis Rainsford and Ken Durham are whispering in the ears
of the ruling majority - Chairman Kneece, Willie Bright, and Norman
Dorn - they believe the fairytale and not the hard factual numbers
Chairman Monroe Kneece stated at the time of the sudden vote to buy the
property that “things changed”, an interesting comment to say the least.
We are still talking about the same property. We are still talking
about the same price. We are still looking at the same cost estimates.
We are still looking at the same people involved.
What changed? Just how much “change” was involved?
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