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The Calliham Scam
A Column By the Editor
posted December 4, 2009
COLUMN – For over two years I have
followed the exclusive move to purchase the debt of J. P. Calliham and
his beleaguered property by the Edgefield County Council. Property that
was sold in a foreclosure and now is supposed to be sold in a tax sale
next week. But it might not be sold because it was reportedly removed
public sale listings at the request of County Council Chairman
Kneece, who does not have the authority to remove any property from a
In fact, Chairman Kneece cannot call, ask, or instruct any county
employee to perform any task relating to county operations whatsoever.
But who cares, that’s the way we’ve “always done it around here”.
The sale may go forward if the Citizen News published the complete tax
sale notices in its original form. The Edgefield Advertiser blanked out
the official information in at least two publications which makes the
legal notice invalid.
Mike Rosier, Publisher of The Citizen News, said he was contacted
before the first notice ran by them and a family member of Mr. Calliham
said County Council Chairman Monroe Kneece said the notice was to be
removed. Rosier said they ran the official notice provided by the Tax
Collector’s Office, but subsequent listings were sent to the printer
and not through The Citizen News. “I don’t know if it was changed after
that,” he said.
It is unknown at this time if the tax sale for unpaid taxes will go
forward as required by law on the Calliham property the county council
has voted to purchase. If it does not, that could cause serious
repercussions on for County Council Chairman Kneece, County Attorney
Michael Medlock, and the county.
On Nov. 18, 2009, the Edgefield Advertiser published a piece that was
titled, “County Explains Funding for Calliham Bldg. Project”, but
listed no source from the county and no supporting evidence to back the
It was explained that Edgefield County would act as its own “general
contractor” on the project and would subcontract the work, saving the
county money. Of course, the main beneficiary of that work is said to
be Edgefield Construction, according to county officials who spoke on
condition of anonymity due to increased pressure to not release public
Edgefield Construction is owned by Edgefield Mayor Ken Durham who
provided the initial drawings and cost estimates on the project. He was
supported in public meetings by Edgefield Construction co-owner Bettis
Rainsford pushing for the purchase.
However, if the Edgefield Advertiser or other media outlets had done
their homework, they would have learned that any job over $5,000 has to
be placed out for bids and any person or company involved in the
design, negotiations, or other aspects of the development of the plan
would not be allowed to bid or perform the work.
According to the estimates for the work provided by the architectural
firm 2KM, the initial costs of a partial remodeling would be
$892,810.63. Well above the $625,000 available in insurance money.
County Council Chairman Monroe Kneece, Ken Durham, and Bettis Rainsford
all have stated publicly the purchase and remodeling would not cost the
county a penny in tax money.
Costs on the County Council Chambers and the Edgefield County Jail both
went over budget and the same promises were made then.
How to reconcile past performance, and estimations by the very same
people compared to professionals offering cost estimates 50% higher
than Kneece, Durham, and Rainsford promises, holds very little in the
way of assurance of anything they say being remotely factual.
However, Chairman Kneece refused to answer any questions on that matter
Tuesday night and offered an
attack rather than provide any answers
when confronted with the estimates provided to the county from 2KM.
Furthermore, how will the county be its own contractor and its own
building inspector? I thought Mike Reed was already holding two
positions illegally by working as the head of the building department
and acting as the only licensed commercial Tax Assessor. Will he now
hold four positions?
Reed is signing off on the tax assessor’s work because Kiesha Bryant
does not hold the required licensees, he is head of building and
planning, he is the proposed general contractor, and oversees the
building inspector charged to make sure the general contractor abides
by the laws.
Yeah, what could possibly go wrong there?
Oh, I forgot, “that’s the way we’ve always done it around here.”
Maybe its time to get rid of those who always do what never works and
expects a different outcome. How many times do you need to burn your
hand on the stove to learn putting it there is going to hurt you?
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