MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE WALHALLA CITY COUNCIL
March 17, 2020
Present: Mayor Danny Edwards, Councilman David Underwood, Councilman Dennis Owens, Councilwoman Sarai Melendez, Councilman Danny Woodward, Councilman Keith Pace, Councilman Josh Roberts and Brent Taylor, City Administrator.
Mayor Edwards called the meeting to order at 5:30 pm. Councilman Underwood led the pledge of allegiance.
Councilman Keith Pace Swearing-In-Ceremony
Mayor Edwards administered the oath of office to Keith Pace.
There was no public input.
Approval of Minutes: On a motion by Mr. Underwood, seconded by Mr. Woodward and unanimously carried, the minutes for the regular meeting on March 17, 2020 meeting were approved.
Reading of Resolutions and Ordinances:
Mr. Underwood made a motion to adopt Resolution 2020-1 A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU, STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, OCONEE COUNTY AND THE CITY OF WALHALLA TO COUNT EVERY RESIDENT IN OCONEE COUNTY. The motion was seconded by Mr. Owens and was unanimously approved.
Discussion: The Administrator explained the U.S. Census is important because the data determines Federal funding, representation among other things. This resolution indicates the support from the City to the County and the U.S. Census. The Mayor stated, “It is important for every person to be counted.”
Mr. Underwood made a motion to adopt Resolution 2020-2 A RESOLUTION COMMITTING RESOURCES OF THE CITY OF WALHALLA TO ADDRESS SEWER ISSUES. The motion was seconded by Mr. Woodward and was unanimously approved.
Discussion: Mr. Underwood read the resolution. Mr. Underwood, stated “We have already started this process with the study currently going on at Cane Creek.” The Mayor said, “There was supposed to be a meeting today with the Cane Creek stake holders, but was cancelled due to the pandemic. It shows how important this project is to us and the sewer authority.”
Stumphouse Mountain Bike Presentation
Mr. Deno Copses, owner of Benchmark Trails, Judge Dan Pollack and Darlene Greene made a presentation regarding the recent history and future of Stumphouse Park. Mr. Copses explained that Phase I included 3.5 miles of trail and with the addition of Phase II there are now 11 miles of trail. He described the linkage of the Palmetto Trail from Stumphouse Park to other areas of the County. He showed two access points to the Bike Park which include the current parking lot and the proposed one on Ross Mountain Rd.
Mr. Copses stated his desire is to create a modern bike trail that will become a destination for riders throughout the Southeast. This would include a pump track. This is a track that has berms which creates momentum so the rider doesn’t have to pedal. Also included are flow trails, pocket parks, wooden structures among other features that will attract not only riders, but competitions as well.
Mayor Edward asked, “How long would the wooden structures last?” Mr. Copses they are very durable you may have to replace a board or two within 6-12 years.
Mr. Underwood commented. “He had a friend ride it recently and she indicated it was the best trail she rode on.” Mr. Copses said, “The trail is getting a rating on social media of a 4.5.
Mr. Copses went over some budget figures for Phase III and talked about connecting the Palmetto Trail to the downtown of Walhalla. Then there was brief discussion about forming a “Friends of the Trails” group. Also, some brief discussion of who handles minor maintenance and major maintenance issues.
Judge Pollack described some of the cost differences between the first two phases and Phase III. In particular, there was more in-kind labor from the Palmetto Conservation Fund during the first two phases that most likely won’t be available for Phase III.
Darlene Green spoke about the history of the Chamber working with the City of Walhalla to get this project started. The concept was developed in 2015 as an opportunity to improve the economic condition of the City. She stated this occurred at a rapid rate with Phase I being opened in 2017.
She stated critical infrastructure needs are 1) additional parking lot on Ross Mountain Road, 2) two additional restrooms, 3) bike repair and wash stations, and 4) bike racks around town.
Ms. Green stated that she formed the Walhalla Trails Trust Corp. which is a 501c 3 non-profit organization. She stated it is structured like the Downtown Development Corporation designed to give support to the City to assist in fund-raising and other areas to promote all trails not just Stumphouse Park. She said, “Our long-term goals should be to become a IMBA biking destination, an Epic Ride Center and designated as a “Trail Town”. She would like for the City to approve being part of the Walhalla Trails Trust Corp. and the Phase III plan.
Mayor Edwards expressed his gratitude for all the work they have done. He mentioned he met some riders in Walhalla that came from Alabama to ride trails in Brevard and it clearly shows people will come from all around to ride.
Police JAG Grant
Mr. Woodward expressed interest in applying for Judicial Assistance Grant for a Narcotics officer. This is a 90/10 grant for three years. The City would be responsible for 100% of the position after three years. Chief Brinson took over the presentation. He stated during the last ten years the department’s narcotics arrest ranged between 30-90 people each year. When the department had a Narcotic’s officer the arrests were closer to 90. He also stated the department had 22 officers at one point and now we have 14. Due to fewer officers and restructuring the Department the Narcotics position wasn’t filled. He showed a Chain of Command that included a Narcotic’s officer.
Mr. Pace asked, “Is this is a higher end LT. position?” Chief Brinson stated, “He planned on promoting an officer with experience to this position and hire an extra patrol officer.” The Mayor asked, “Why a LT. instead of a Sargent?” The Chief replied, “Because this is the position that makes us competitive with other investigators in the area.”
Mr. Owens asked the Chief to confirm the City’s portion. The Chief replied, “The first year the State’s portion would be $107,763 and the City’s $11,119. Afterwards the City’s portion would be approximately $6,500. The main difference in the first year is because of a vehicle purchase.”
Mr. Owens stated, “This is a low-cost way to get an officer and new equipment.”
Ms. Melendez asked, “If this is time sensitive?” The Chief reported, “Yes.”
Mr. Pace asked, “When will we know about it?” The Chief replied, “In October. Afterwards it will take about 3-5 months to get a new officer.”
The Mayor stated “Next time this should come to committee meeting before the regular meeting.”
Mr. Woodward made a motion to apply for the grant. Mr. Owens seconded it and it was unanimously approved.
Accept Waterline into City
Mr. Owens made a motion for the City to accept 778’ of water line constructed on Ebenezer Rd. to the Blue Ridge Riding club. The motion was seconded by Mr. Pace and approved unanimously.
Hospitality Tax Expenditure
The Administrator stated the General Government committee recommended approving funding for the Oconee History Museum. Mr. Woodward made a motion to approve $8,500. Ms. Melendez seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
The Administrator stated the General Government committee recommended approving $3,500 for concrete to construct the batting cage. The motion was made by Mr. Woodward seconded by Mr. Roberts and approved unanimously. Ms. Melendez asked, “Where the location of the batting cage?” Mr. Woodward replied, “It is where the base for the cage currently is. You can see the location from the road.”
The Administrator stated the General Government committee recommend funding $6,400 for an emergency sewer repair at the Walhalla Performing Arts center. Initially was going to be $16,400 to include a concert, but due to the virus the artist was not going to be available. Mr. Roberts made the motion to approved $6,400 and seconded by Mr. Woodward and was approved unanimously.
The Administrator asked council if they wanted to advertise in the visitor’s guide. Mr. Woodward made a motion to allocate $2,500 to advertise in the guide. Mr. Roberts seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. Ms. Melendez inquired how many are printed and how long will they last. The Administrator replied, “It is several thousand and they last for quite a while.”
Mr. Pace reported the Department had
121 calls for service
51 calls inside the City and 70 were outside.
25 instances of mutual aid.
Staff trained 140 hours.
Fire Marshall completed 21 business inspections, 4 residential inspections and 15 pre-fire plans.
Received an update on the new fire truck.
They are working with Blue Ridge Electric to put in two extra lights at Stumphouse Park.
The Codes Division made 10 new contacts, issued 4 permits and 7 zoning verifications.
Mr. Roberts reported:
The committee recommended using Hospitality Funds for batting cage at Sertoma Park and to the Walhalla Performing Arts. The culvert project on College and South Broad St. has started. The Pickle Ball court project has started. Introduced Libby Imbody as the new Main St. Coordinator. Mark Thompson spoke about a potential outdoor summer concert series.
Mr. Owens reported The Department collected the following:
270 tons residential garbage
50 tons commercial garbage
39 tons of brush
13 tons of C&D
6 tons of furniture
1.5 tons of mattress = 24 mattress
Ms. Melendez reported
The 8-under girl’s basketball team qualified for the state tournament.
297 youths have registered for baseball and softball. Enrollment is down a little bit due to an increase in travel ball teams.
We were updated on the repairs from the flooding at Sertoma Park.
The batting cage construction is in progress. Waiting on some dry days to finish it.
Mr. Woodward reported:
The department hired a new officer. They worked with other departments to close streets during the flooding. They performed 16 hours of training. Captain Rice is developing a new background investigation program to find not only qualified applicants, but also will indicate who is a good fit for the department. The goal is to improve retention. Kimbler,K-9, performed a demonstration at St. John’s Pre-School.
The Department had
Issued 24 tickets
992 Calls for Service
214 hours of extra patrol
270 traffic stops
Mr. Owens reported:
We discussed the letter sent by Oconee Regional Sewer Authority regarding I&I issues.
We are applying for a grant from the Rural Infrastructure Authority to address issues in the Cane Creek Basin. The Mayor introduced several points he would like to see happen in addressing the City’s sewer system. Council voted unanimously to support it. We had a brief update on new meter installation and Drive Thru.
Mayor’s Comments: The Mayor had no comments.
Fire Chief Burton gave an update on the Coronavirus. He said, “There is no vaccine for it and that is the major issue with it unlike other flu and it has already mutated.” He presented how the pandemic situation is nationally. He had been in contact with Prisma since Feb. 28 and the County. The City has been observing Best Practices since March 13. He concluded with the SCDHEC report and strongly urged “social distancing and washing hands.” Mr. Roberts stated, “We need to support the County and stay in good contact with various agencies during this crisis.” The Mayor encouraged the public to support business as much as possible and get take out from as many restaurants as you can afford.
Brent Taylor, City Administrator