City continues to ask, not force mask wearing
You won’t be forced to wear a mask in Clinton, just asked.
The City of Clinton took up the issue of mask ordinance or mask resolution again on Tuesday, but held to its previous decision to ask, not tell people to wear them.
The vote was 4-3 for the ordinance, but an emergency ordinance requires a 2/3rds vote or 5 votes to pass, so the measure failed. Mayor Bob McLean, Ronnie Roth and Gary Kuykendall voted against the ordinance).
Council then voted unanimously for the resolution, which recommends face coverings, but does not require them.
The ordinance would have required a face covering. Anyone not wearing a covering would face a $25 fine.
Councilwoman Megan Walsh again pushed for the ordinance, offering council members information supporting her position and showing South Carolina ranked 11th nationally in coronavirus cases.
“We need to do our best as citizens to protect each other,” she said. “We need to think of our neighbors before ourselves.”
Mayor Bob McLean offered a different view with information gathered by Assistant City Administrator Thomas Higgs, which showed a spike in Clinton cases on July 21, a holding pattern since mid-August and recent decline in numbers.
“I said we’d revisit this if we had a huge spike in cases and I don’t think we’ve had one,” he said. “I’m not going to change my position (resolution, not ordinance).”
Higgs said the City of Clinton has partnered with the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce and purchased billboards to promote voluntary mask wearing.
Later in the meeting, Councilwoman Shirley Jenkins defended her position for an ordinance and the cancellation of the Scots & Brats festival.
“Saving lives is better than making a dollar,” she said.
Council approved a fire contract agreement with Laurens County and the City of Clinton.
The contract began on July 21 and the council was not happy about getting an agreement for approval after it had already started.
Clinton Fire responds to 44 percent of its calls outside the City. They asked Laurens County for a 5 percent increase in funding and got 1.8 percent. Higgs said the City will analyze the cost of each call and request funding accordingly.
In other business:
• Council recognized September as Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.
• Employees were recognized for five years of service: Michael Bolick (senior engineer, fire department), Derric Gandee (sgt./patrol officer, police department) and Donya Langston (administrative coordinator and fireman, fire department).
• Council approved first reading of an ordinance to amend the City of Clinton code ordinance, the section related to the flood plan. This is done for state compliance.
• The City will purchase a replacement HVAC system for the M.S. Bailey Municipal Center at a cost of $207,967 from Thomas Mechanical. Funding will come from hospitality and accommodations tax, as the system will serve the Welcome Center portion of the building.
• A Workshop will be held Oct. 17, from 8 a.m. to noon. Council is working on narrowing topics for the information session.
• Landscaping will begin in the next few weeks at M.S. Bailey Municipal Center.
• City staff is looking into pursuing a grant and private funding to make Josh and Ella Savage Park handicap accessible.
• Hydrant testing will start Sept. 21.
• The connectivity study has started. The study will show how to connect the City of Clinton with parks and trails.
• Construction of the main entrance of the sports complex has started. Council was presented with preliminary drawings of a meeting building-concession stand. A ground breaking for the complex will be held soon.
• Code enforcement for the City is at 56 percent (completed rate, cases closed).
• Executive session: No action was taken on a contractual matter relating to the sale and purchase of City owned property or a matter relating to Thornwell.
• The following were placed on the A-Tax Committee: Sabra Woodcock (Hampton Inn), Pritesh Patel (Quality Inn), Robin Wilson (Wilson’s Curb Market), Tony Dempsey (Dempsey’s Pizza), Charles Massey (Big Boy’s Country Cooking), Kay Addison (Laurens County Community Theatre) and Vanessa Stoddard (Stoddard Plastering).
• McLean praised Laurens County School District 56 in starting back to school.
“We are fortunate to have the leadership we have in District 56,” he said. “Thank you for all you do for our children.”