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Parking Wars: Alleged Criminals vs Edgefield Business Owners

A Column by the Editor
web posted July 11, 2011

COLUMN – Every three months residents and business owners located in downtown Edgefield feel the pressures of the antiquated processes of General Sessions Court being held at the County Courthouse. Every person on the docket (nearly 250) is required to appear starting Monday. With very limited parking finding a space to park to shop or eat lunch is going to be difficult, if not nearly impossible in the downtown area.

Local restaurants feel the greatest pinch, though specialty shops and other businesses also suffer. With nowhere to park, those seeking a quick bite to eat or visitors wanting to stop and shop, are left with limited choices - park far away and walk or avoid the downtown area altogether. That's not good for a town that is losing storefronts faster than the Obama Administration's overreach of regulations and new taxes is killing jobs.

My question is why does this need to take place every three months?

With hundreds facing felony charges in General Sessions Court, and at best two or maybe three dozen having their cases adjudicated, is it necessary for all those charged to appear for nothing more than to disrupt all businesses in downtown Edgefield when it serves no judicial purpose?

Surely not.

The Solicitor's Office, headed by Solicitor Donnie Myers, requires everyone charged to show up, day in and day out, even though they know the vast majority will do so for nothing. Their cases will not be heard and the only thing this requirement does is cause havoc to the local businesses because of limited parking and force many of those charged to lose their jobs for taking two weeks off every three months for nothing before they are proven guilty or found innocent.

Granted, the Solicitor's Office has a large hill to climb in clearing the docket of those charged with felony crimes, but is there any real rhyme of reason to forcing those who they know will do nothing more than occupy a space on a bench in the Court House to appear just because?

Of course those who do not show up will have a bench warrant issued for their arrest and will be taken into custody and held at the Edgefield County Detention Center until their trial - which could be years - increasing the cost to the county to house those arrested.

Some of those charged have crimes dating back 1, 2, 3 or even 10 years.

During the current budget crunch and the county shaving nearly a million dollars from the county's budget over the last three years, the last thing we need is more suspects locked up for going to work rather than showing up for court when their cases will never be heard.

There has to be some middle ground that can be reached.

I can't blame the Solicitor's Office in total because they are doing as they are instructed. However, it seems that they should be able to streamline the cases that will be heard over the two week period every three months in advance and inform those whose appearance will do nothing to further their case.

This would alleviate the mass pilgrimage, which has been an issue at the Edgefield Town Council meetings on available parking recently and in the past, of those charged with felonies invading the sidewalks around the court house and therefore taking the limited parking spaces to strangle local businesses owners of potential customers while they stand around and do nothing other than allow County Councilman Norman Dorn to peruse the crowd to sign up potential Democrat voters.

Something needs to be done to balance the needs of local business owners with the needs of the Solicitor's Office. I'm sure with some forethought, this can be accomplished.

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