NORTH – Mayor Patty Carson gave a presentation on a new Veterans’ Memorial Park in front of an audience of nine North-area veterans and others at the April town council meeting.
Carson said the project is a joint initiative between the town and Orangeburg County Councilman Heyward Livingston using penny sales tax funds.
“Tonight, I am honored to announce plans for the Veterans’ Memorial Park. I have been working with Heyward Livingston to make this a reality,” Carson said.
She said that the land behind the North Town Hall was thought to once be owned by the railroad company but she discovered that the town owns it.
Trees, a plaza with personalized bricks memorializing veterans, handicapped parking, and a monument honoring all areas of the U.S. armed forces are planned for the park, she said.
“The park is being planned as a quiet, serene and respectful tribute to all branches of our armed services,” Carson said. “And we are proud that Patrick Livingston, son of Nancy & Theron Livingston, and a native of North, designed this memorial park.”
Pavers will be placed in the park plaza and are available for $100 each. This will include three lines of text that is laser engraved. The 4-inch x 8-inch pavers will be placed in the center of the park (plaza) in front of the memorial.
Six memorial park benches that will be installed and will contain an inscription from the donor. The park benches are $1,000 each. Trees of various sizes will be planted, and donors will be recognized on a plaque in the Town Hall. The trees are:
- Willow oak (6): $100
- Oakland holly (5): $100
- Dwarf magnolia (8): $100
- Crepe myrtle (3): $75
She said that like with other memorial parks, these items can be paid for by citizens and placed in memory of a veteran.
Council unanimously approved a resolution committing the town of North to provide a local match for a PARD (Parks and Recreation Development) grant of $40,000 from the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.
“The $10,000 match we are being asked to provide will be approximately $3,700 because of penny sales tax money that the town still has,” Carson said.
The total cost of the park will be more than $50,000, she said. She added that the PARD funding can be used for the park except for the monument and that the $3,700 the town is contributing will be taken out of the town’s savings account.
Wallace Gleaton, commander of the S.C. Veterans Group of North, was among the nine veterans in attendance and spoke for them. He said that his group meets every Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Masonic hut behind the U.S. Post Office in North and all veterans are welcome to attend. Some of the veterans in attendance were part of the group, and others were veterans from the community.
Gleaton said, “It is so wonderful to see the town of North representing us, all veterans. It is a pleasure to be standing near these veterans. Some are Iraqi veterans and others are Vietnam.”
He pointed to a Vietnam patch he wore which read, “All gave some, and some gave all.”
“We will never forget them. We thank God for them. Tonight, we want to thank you for this memorial,” he said.
Gleaton said he will have a place to bring his grandchildren and show them and that others would as well.
“To see this happening is just wonderful. I cannot thank you all enough. We appreciate it to the utmost. God bless you,” he said.
Gleaton and the eight veterans were leaving as Carson called for a closed executive session.
Carson was interrupted by S.C. Rep. Russell L. Ott of District 93 just as council was going into executive session. Ott said he disagreed about the public comments portion of the meeting and how it was handled as well as him being asked to wait to speak until after executive session.
Ott asked if council could vote against the executive session and allow him to speak first, but Carson stated they had already entered executive session.
While council members met behind closed doors, Ott said, “There were several members of the (local legislative) delegation that allowed their PARD funding to be used for the Veterans’ Memorial Park.”
“Sen. Brad Hutto used all of his, and I used all of mine. We pitched in for it to be fully funded,” he said.
The $40,000 PARD grant was pushed for by state politicians.
Ott stated that he wanted to tell this to the veterans this before they left the meeting but was not allowed to speak by Carson.
Upon return to open session, Carson said that Ott had signed up for public comments but that there was no topic written, and according to Municipal Association of South Carolina guidelines, he could not speak.
Councilwoman Jennifer Williams made a motion to hear what Ott had to say, and Councilman Julius Jones seconded the motion.
Carson stated that council was making an exception for their guidelines for public comments.
Ott repeated to council what he said about the grant and the legislative delegation.
“The project that was discussed was state money, the $40,000 … I wanted to say that before the veterans left,” he said.
Ott also said that his constituents have been contacting him about the town’s electronic water bills and about paying the water bills online in the town of North. Some constituents can’t handle using the technology, he said.
“Reconsider what you are doing with the water bills,” Ott said.
“You are changing the topic,” Carson said, referring to a printed policy that states public comments must be on a written topic and relate to present discussion in a meeting.