Law Enforcement Center study back in play

UPDATED FOLLOWING PRINT EDITION:

A motion to study the needs of the Laurens County Law Enforcement Center may not be dead after all.

In September, a motion to spend $25,000 with Stewart-Cooper-Newell Architects for a comprehensive study on the needs for a new or updated law enforcement center and coroner’s office died with a tied 3-3 vote of the Laurens County Council.

The deadlock occurred because newly elected Brown Patterson had not been installed and council was left with six members after former District 4 councilman Stewart Jones was elected to the state House of Representatives.

Chairman David Pitts, Vice Chairman Joe Wood and Garrett McDaniel voted against spending the $25,000 for the study, but council later approved a similar study at the same cost for a new EMS headquarters by a 4-2 vote. Pitts and Wood voted against that motion.

Patterson placed the $25,000 project on the agenda for Tuesday night’s regular meeting of council and asked that it be referred to a committee for further discussion. Pitts granted the request.

After being installed into office in September, Patterson attempted to bring the motion back before council but was wrongly told the motion was out of order by county attorney Sandy Cruickshanks.

Cruickshanks has since apologized for the incorrect ruling and said the motion can be entertained by council.

Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds said the county’s nearly 50-year-old law enforcement center no longer fills the needs of the LCSO and the coroner’s office, both of which have outgrown the facility.

Reynolds and employees have said walls have separated from the floors, allowing lines of sight through large cracks between the first and second floors.

The evidence room has also been a cause of concern for the LCSO. Located in the old jail, the evidence area is plagued by water leakage and even snakes.

Reynolds said pest control professionals called in will not eradicate pests because that area of the building has been condemned.

Pitts said he voted against the proposals because the county does not currently have the funds to build a new LEC or renovate the current one. He said needs could change before any construction begins and the $25,000 spent now would be a waste.

In other agenda items:

Council approved a request from the City of Clinton to reimburse the city for its waste disposal.

According to the request from Clinton Director of Utilities and Public Works Joey Meadors, the county was paying $18 per ton for Clinton’s solid waste to be delivered to Twin Chimney Landfill in Greenville County, but that trek became unwieldy for the city’s sanitation department.

Meadors made the decision for Clinton to utilize the landfill in Union County at a cost of $25 per ton, saving time and effort for his department. He is asking for the reimbursement at $17 per ton the county was paying for the Twin Chimney disposal.

Council received notice of  a successful bid from Thomas & Hutton of Columbia to install sewer lines at Connexial Center industrial park. The funds for the project came from a grant.

The winning bid came in at $881,766.67. The closest other bid was at $1.15 million.

Also, council members were also to review plans for Phase 1 of a remodel of the Historic Laurens County Courthouse.

Council earlier approved funding for Phase 1 of the project, which is designed to stabilize the aging building while repairing areas of damage.

The review includes about 25 pages of drawings and more than 200 pages of specifications for the project.

 

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