Should the squeakin' wheel gets the grease

  • Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I hated those rocks: you know, the huge boulders that jutted out from the corners of the medians down Main Street in Kingstree. I didn't know why they were there but considering some of the landscaping performed around here by a variety of self-proclaimed pros, there was an explanation.

A few months ago on a pretty weekend afternoon, I was riding down Main Street when I happened to look at the newly renovated courthouse. I took a double take as a man was installing words across the top of the historical structure. I wasn't certain why a Robert Mills design rated advertising but there are a lot of self-proclaimed smart people in this county so there had to be an explanation.

As for the rocks: They served a purpose according to Kingstree Town Manager Dan Wells. Mr. Wells said they were placed there to protect the sprinkler system. A closer look at the cement curbs reveal previous destruction left behind by drivers cutting those corners.  The rocks are now gone and were replaced by even uglier tall white poles, I assume placed there by the Department of Transportation because the town manager made no claim to them. They two are gone. So I guess the sprinkler system will have to fend for itself.

The courthouse regalia, I understand, was ordered without following proper guidelines that include applying for signage through the Town's Architectural Review Board. As well, I don't believe anyone considered the historical significance of the building when making the decision. I may be wrong but my research on Robert Mills courthouses that have signage on them totals zero. The lettering was removed two weeks later.

Some may be thinking these issues don't seem very important. I went out and did a little survey of its citizens to find out. Not one - not one - noticed the boulders were gone or that the letters on the courthouse had been removed. In fact, not one even noticed the letters.  My survey was neither "scientific" nor did it capture a wide audience but it made me think.

Ben McClary recently placed his name on County Council's agenda so he could present his comments and concerns. What I mean is he requested to have his name placed on the agenda because County Council doesn't regularly include public comment on their agenda like the School District or Town Council.

Mr. McClary brought up several concerns: some of which affected all the citizens. However, he did it in a rational, even tone, minus the theater and finger pointing. In turn, he was offered straightforward and understandable responses and was promised further investigation or a solution, depending on the concern. Mr. McClary seemed satisfied and he didn't have to raise his voice, put someone in the glaring spotlight or create a cloud of suspicion to get his point across.

Where there are many legitimate concerns raised by citizens regarding our city, county and school system (and some aren't addressed until public pressure is applied), the notion of posturing and channeling misinformation as a positive tool to make something happen can be construed as petty and self-satisfying.

I can't remember the last time a citizen stood before a council or board and said "Good job". The city has upgraded its water system, metering system, paved Main Street and put teeth into its ordinance dealing with blights. The county is nearly finished installing water to over 90 percent of the county. Both county and city law enforcement have upgraded their fleets and are aggressively addressing crime. Do those accomplishments mean anything?

No, I never liked those rocks down Main Street. In fact, I'm not certain I care for the grasses planted in the medians they once stood guard. But what I do know is it looks better than it did and if it were up to the Department of Transportation (who is really responsible for the medians) all that we'd see is a lawn mower cutting grass.

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