Public Defender’s work appreciated by Laurens County Council resolution

“He has done what he has done with vigor,” County Administrator Ernie Segars said

A man who dedicated nearly three decades of his professional career to defending in court the rights of indigent clients was honored last Tuesday by a resolution of Laurens County Council. The “golf buddies,” judges, fellow public defenders and family of Claude H. “Chip” Howe III of Clinton joined council in appreciating his 28 yards service in the Laurens County Public Defender Office. Howe served since 2007 as Senior Public Defender following a change in state law and retired from the office in July. Howe has long been a fixture in the courts of Laurens County, discussing cases with prosecutors, handling trials and guilty pleas, and working with clients who have the right to an attorney but cannot afford one. “He has done what he has done with vigor,” County Administrator Ernie Segars said. Council Chairman Joe Wood praised Howe’s service, and acknowledged Howe’s friend, Jim Coleman, former county council chairman, who attended the Sept. 8 meeting in council chambers. The Laurens County Council resolution, signed by all seven members, says in part, “For almost three decades, Mr. Howe has provided competent legal representation to thousands of Laurens County residents who otherwise would not have access to such representation. “For many years, Mr. Howe utilized his considerable professional skills, to insure that defendants in the Laurens County Judicial System dealt with his clients fairly and equitably.” In other action, council agreed to bestow its highest honor to a woman who has maintained the historical heritage of the Gray Court-Owing community. On nomination of council member Ted Nash, council agreed to bestow the Henry Laurens Award to Diane Culbertson. Nash said she has been instrumental in developing Pioneer Day, which was held Saturday at Culbertson Backcountry Settlement, and has contributed to development of a town park in Gray Court. Culbertson has been a leader in the Gray Court-Owings Historical Society for many years. Council Vice-Chairman Keith Tollison seconded Nash’s nomination motion, which passed unanimously. The council has three Henry Laurens Awards it will bestow in the coming months, and Segars said county administration is working now on certificates and plaques for the honor ceremonies. Council also agreed to a termination of agreement with Fiber Web, a company no longer located in Laurens County, and cleared the way for a new company, Mogul Nonwovens, based in Turkey, to locate its first North American plant in northern Laurens County. The action stems from a 1998 agreement between the county and Superior Nonwoven LLC and releases the company from the obligation of a $2.19 million special source revenue bond. The council also gave final approval to a transfer of .36 acres on a cul de sac in the Owings Industrial Park to a development company that has bought the Laurens County Development Corporation’s “spec” building. That company is working with ZF Transmissions for an expansion that will put ZF’s employment at 2,000 at its Gray Court location. Both economic development-related motions passed the council unanimously. Council spent one hour and 40 minutes in a closed-to-the-public executive session, most of that time with Cruickshanks to discuss an employment matter in the county attorney’s office. No action was taken as the council returned to open session and adjourned.

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