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Heath Springs council reverses decision on Christmas lights

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By Greg Summers

Gregory A. Summers
gsummers@thelancasternews.com
HEATH SPRINGS – When it comes to government spending, more money isn’t always the answer.
Sometimes, it’s less, which is why Heath Springs Town Council held a special meeting  Wednesday, Oct. 2.
After appointing a committee and approving a measure at its September meeting to buy new style Christmas decorations for 22 utility poles in the town, council did an about face.
Based on that committee’s recommendation, the town will replace bulbs in the existing decorations for now.
The matter was not as high a priority as other issues facing the town, it was pressing from a time standpoint.
Since the decorations normally go up at the beginning of each holiday season on Black Friday, it left town administrator Tony Starnes a limited amount of time to follow council’s wishes.
While the existing decorations are 10 years old, Mayor Ann Taylor said they were in much better shape than the committee realized.
“The fixtures looked almost like new,” Taylor said. “I was expecting to see foliage hanging down, but they looked good. I don’t want to see something tacky in our town.”
Heath Springs Town Councilwoman Iva Drakeford, who chaired the committee, shook her head in agreement.
In researching the matter, Starnes gave council members three options.
Starnes said the town could buy new decorations at an estimated cost of $11,000; replace the existing bulbs with LED light bulbs for about $1,500 or just replace the bad bulbs with standard ones at a much lower cost.
While council leaned toward the latter, Councilman Ted Sowell said there was one administrative housekeeping issue to first address.
“Your group of three was approved to decide which decorations to buy, but you took a different direction. I don’t have a problem with your decision and applaud you for it, but we have to get out of the motion first,” Sowell said.
Drakeford said she didn’t have a problem with that.
“If we made a motion, then we need to undo it,” Taylor said.
After more discussion. Sowell made a motion to rescind the original measure and directed Starnes to repair and replace burned-out bulbs. The vote passed by a 3-1 margin, with Sowell, Drakeford and Taylor voting yes. The Rev. Eddie Moore cast the dissenting vote. Town Councilman Mark Bridges was not at the meeting.
 “If we want to talk about it again sometime next summer, fine,” Sowell said.
At its September meeting, Heath Springs Town Council also:
u Heard citizen concerns about the weekday morning and afternoon traffic patterns near Heath Springs Elementary School and how motorists are pulling into the oncoming lane to access the recycling center. Taylor referred them to the Lancaster County School District.
“There’s really not anything we can do about that,” Starnes said.
u Received a monthly financial report from Starnes.
u Heard an update on its efforts to obtain S.C. Department of Environmental Control (DHEC) funding to repaint and refurbish the 100,000-gallon water storage tank on College Street. The town is seeking $100,000 in funds to pay for the work. Starnes said DHEC has ranked the water tank work at No. 6  among 53 possible projects. DHEC has now listed the project on a website seeking public comment.
“I thought that ranking was pretty good,” Starnes said.
u Heard an update on plans to repair a section of the sidewalk on West Perry Street that is impassable. Starnes said water seepage from a nearby steep embankment has raised a safety concern. Starnes said S.C. Department of Transportation has sent inspectors to look at sidewalk and has agreed to make the repairs, although no timetable has been set. While the sidewalk is part of the highway right of way, Starnes said a nearby property owner has given permission to remove a nearby tree that will help with the repairs.      

Editor’s note: David Kellin, a correspondent for The Lancaster News, contributed to this story.

Contact copy editor Greg Summers at (803) 283-1156