Gray Court losing county magistrate

Feb 14 Written by  STAFF REPORTS

Gray Court will no longer have a county magistrate, based on action Tuesday night by the Laurens County Council.

The magistrate is being moved to the Hillcrest Square Judicial Center in Laurens, to assist with the workload there. The magistrate is free to contract with the Town of Gray Court to be the municipal judge. The Magistrate’s Office recommended the change, which was supported by the county’s legislative delegation.

Two people spoke at the county council meeting against the action, but it received unanimous council approval. The people who spoke against the move were told sometimes new things are hard to accept.

The council also authorized a $60,000 renovation in Hillcrest Square to enhance space for the magistrates and remove a payment window from the building’s entrance. An area that looks like a reception desk also may be closed in for an office; no one on the council wanted to hire a receptionist for the building, saying that Sheriff’s Office security officers could handle inquiries from people with business to transact in the judicial - services - administration complex.

Council split 6-1 on allowing changes to job titles and duties within the magistrate’s office. The $9,300 in additional pay for the employees affected will be made up by savings in other areas (like pay for jurors and association dues). Council member Dianne Anderson voted “no,” saying this kind of shuffling is not a good idea mid-way through a budget year.

Council agreed to a reallocation of money in the Emergency Medical Services budget to allow the purchase of 7 new cardiac monitors ($222,563 cost), cutting by half the total number of monitors that will need to be replaced. Council was told by 2020, the American Heart Association requirement for heart monitors will include real-time assessments, a function no monitor in use now by Laurens County EMS can perform.

Replacing cardiac monitors is a small part of the county’s overall $60 million strategic capital plan, but council was told it is an action that can be taken now, paid for with existing funds.

A majority of council voted not to send a letter of endorsement for a proposed apartments development near Clinton.

The development is not in the city, and not subject to zoning, but council member and Clinton resident Dr. David Pitts said people in Clinton don’t want apartments.

Pitts said he lives a half mile from the apartments’ proposed location.

Wado Cooper Development proposed an $8.4 million project to construct 42 2- and 3-BR apartments for moderate-income people. A company spokeswoman said police officers, EMTs and store clerks are the kind of people who have rented the firm’s apartments for the past 20 years; but Pitts said the company could not guarantee the apartments would not be rented to low-income people.

Council Vice-chairman Keith Tollison said “those people” can bring crime into an area and devalue adjoining residential property. Pitts, Tollison, Joe Wood, Ted Nash and Stewart Jones voted against the endorsement letter; council members Anderson and Garrett McDaniel voted “yes”.

Council agreed to talk to the Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission in support of a $10,000 project to run public water to 5 houses on Cedar Valley Road (Hwy 252 near Laurens District 55 High School).

Also, Council accepted into the county’s 400-mile road maintenance network the roads of Blake Heights Subdivision (near Bull Hill Road). The roads have been constructed to county specifications in a project dating to June, 2000, the council was told.

The next meeting of the Laurens County Council will be Tuesday, Feb. 27, 5:30 pm in the council chambers, second floor of the historic courthouse in downtown Laurens. The meeting is open to the public.

Last modified on Wednesday, 14 February 2018 21:15