Greenwood County will move forward with plans to purchase a new boat for the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office after Friday’s legislative delegation meeting.
Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday that would allocate $75,000 from county’s hospitality tax fund to purchase the new boat along with appropriate training for deputies.
The resolution called for the county to provide funding for the purchase if Greenwood County’s legislative delegation did not agree to fund it from either the water recreation resource fund or the game and fish fund.
“The current boat is breaking down,” Sheriff Dennis Kelly told the delegation Friday.
He said the boat suffers from frequent electronic and mechanical malfunction.
“The motor on the boat isn’t made anymore,” Kelly said.
State Rep. John McCravy raised concerns about the legality of using funds from those two sources for the purchase of a boat.
“I don’t know that these two funds are the proper place to get them,” said McCravy, R-Greenwood.
McCravy said supports Kelly getting a boat and would look for funds to help pay for it if the county could not afford to buy one.
He also said he had not heard of the two funds in the four years he has served in the Legislature, which led him to research their intended use.
Greenwood County Council Chairman Steve Brown spoke to the delegation and said the county was prepared to purchase the boat for the sheriff’s office.
“Let us buy the boat,” Brown said. “Timing is of the utmost importance.”
Brown said the county might come back to the delegation to ask for the funds to be used for other projects needed at Lake Greenwood.
The delegation voted to table the matter.
At the council meeting Tuesday, Jimmy Peden from Connect Lake Greenwood said the numbers of people using the lake are growing. He said the state Department of Natural Resources has not increased its patrol in the last 15 years.
Kelly said the new boat would be larger than the current one to accommodate more passengers when the need arises. He said they would continue to use the old boat during peak times although the boat has many limitations.
At the delegation meeting Friday, the first order of business was to elect a chairman and co-chairman. McCravy nominated Sen. Billy Garrett, R-McCormick, to serve as chairman of the delegation. Rep. Anne Parks, D-Greenwood, who has served for many years in the role, nominated herself to continue as chairwoman. Garrett was elected with three votes from himself, McCravy and Rep. Stewart Jones, R-Laurens. Parks voted for herself.
McCravy nominated Parks to serve as co-chairwoman but she declined to serve in that role. Jones was elected as co-chairman. At the end of the meeting, Parks asked to make a statement.
“It saddens me to be hear today to see that people who are just coming onto the delegation have a blatant disrespect for seniority,” Parks said. “I have been on this delegation for 22 years.”
She said the senior member of the delegation has served as the chairman since the times of the late Sen. John Drummond.
“But I do realize that times change,” Parks said. “I hope that the egos of these delegation members don’t prevent them from serving the people of Greenwood to the best of their ability.”
Parks said she appreciated serving as chairwoman and would continue to serve the people of her district.