2012 Year in Review: January – February

Published 9:11 am Friday, December 28, 2012

Editor’s note: With another memorable year winding down, the Bulletin chose to reflect on those stories that kept the community talking. Over the next several issues, we’ll present highlights of those stories.
New DSS building cost $61k less than budgeted amount
Polk County will pay $61,146 less than originally expected for its new department of social services (DSS) building that was occupied on Dec. 13. A project status report stated that the county withheld $6,900 in liquidated damages because the building was not completed on time. Contractors were fined $300 per day for every day past Nov. 14, the contract end date that a certificate of occupancy was not obtained.
Vaughn Creek purchase completed
Tryon announced the acquisition of 24.72 acres of land on Vaughn Creek from Donald Lewis Smith and Robert Lewis. This effort had been a project of the Tryon Parks Committee since October 2005. Funding for the project came from grants from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Marjorie M. & Lawrence R. Bradley Endowment Fund of Polk County Community Foundation.
Walend appointed to fill Guice’s seat in N.C. House
Trudi Walend was appointed to replace former state Rep. David Guice of District 113, who resigned in December 2011 after being selected by Gov. Beverly Perdue to run the state’s new probation system. Walend lost the re-election in November 2012 to Chris Whitmire who will now fill the seat.
Tryon fires town manager
The Town of Tryon terminated town manager Justin Hembree during an emergency meeting Jan. 3. Mayor Pro-tem Roy Miller said the new town board wanted to go in a different direction. After two weeks of debate over a procedural mistake in the way Hembree was fired, council took another vote Jan. 12 to make the move official.
11-year-old accidentally shot
An 11-year-old Polk County boy was treated for a gunshot wound Jan. 2 after his 14-year-old brother accidentally shot him, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The boy was transported to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center, where he was expected to make a full recovery, according to sheriff reports.
“Welcome to Polk County” video premiered
The Polk County Economic Development and Tourism Commission premiered its “Welcome to Polk County” video at the Polk County Commissioner meeting Jan. 9. The video touts Polk County as a great place to live and work in order to entice new companies and new workers to move here.
Martin Luther King Jr. celebration
The Thermal Belt Friendship Council presented its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration on Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Tryon Fine Arts Center. This year’s program featured “Women of the Civil Rights Movement,” as brought to life by Michelle Miller (Fannie Lou Hamer), Eleanor Miller (Dorothy Height) and Tamieea Brown (Ella Baker). Also added to the program were the Eternity Dancers from Asheville. Polk County High senior Kari Malkki was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship.
Polk sheriff’s office purchases new drug dog
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office purchased Kimbo, a 4-year-old male Belgian Malinois, with $11,500 of drug seizure money. Sheriff’s officer Jared McFalls trained him to assist in narcotics operations, handler protection and tracking.
Three meth labs found in Mill Spring woods
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office discovered three meth lab sites on Monday, Jan. 9 in the woods in Mill Spring. After going four years without a methamphetamine lab, Polk County uncovered six sites in five months by January.
Landrum swears in new council members
Mayor Robert Briggs swore in returning and new council members. Taking their oath of office were Joyce Whiteside and Jon Matheis, incumbents; and Johnny Carruth.
Tryon artist wins international sculpture contest on Fine Art America
Tryon artist Pauline Ross won a sculpture contest on Fine Art America and received six months’ exposure in the UK publication “Competition Zone.”
Joey Davis appointed as interim manager
Tryon Town Council voted Jan. 12 to appoint fire chief and planning and zoning administrator Joey Davis as the town’s interim town manager. Davis carried out the duties of town manager, fire chief and planning and zoning administrator simultaneously for several months before the city hired new town manager Caitlin Martin.
Saluda officials urge residents to attend UDO meeting
Saluda Mayor Fred Baisden, at Saluda City Council’s meeting Dec. 12, urged residents to attend the next UDO meeting in an effort to sway committee decisions regarding the Mountain Ridgeline Protection Ordinance (MRPO). Some Saluda residents felt the original draft prohibited growth in their community because all of Saluda is located above the original 1,650-foot threshold that restricted development without a variety of surveys and studies.
Ni America interested in Tryon’s water/sewer systems
Representatives from Ni America told council Jan. 17 that the company was interested in purchasing the town’s water and wastewater systems. Ni America President Ed Wallace said two years ago his company offered Tryon $4.2 million for its systems. The company and the town continued talks about the potential purchase of the system but those stalled later in the year.
$500k stolen in Silver Creek break-ins
A rash of break-ins that occurred during the night of Monday, Jan. 23 ended with a Silver Creek Road family missing more than $500,000 in cash. Polk County Sheriff’s Office Detective Michael Capps said all three break-ins occurred along Silver Creek Road in Mill Spring within a mile of one another. William Arledge said the money was earned over 42 years and was kept in a safe in an extra building on his property.
State audit: Columbus ABC store in black, but needs improvement
Columbus officials learned after a state audit that the town’s ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) Store was not meeting state standards, especially in terms of profitability. The audit found that the Columbus store’s inventory turnover rate did not meet the target rate set by the ABC Commission and that the store did not meet the operating cost ratio recommended by the state.
MRPO amendments approved to allow for special uses in certain zoning districts
Polk County’s Unified Development Ordinance committee voted Jan. 26 to approve amendments to the Mountainside Ridgeline Protection Ordinance (MRPO). Committee member Renée McDermott made the motion to exempt the use restrictions from the MRPO in the following zoning districts: Highway Commercial (HC), Residential (R), Agricultural Residential (AR) and Neighborhood Commercial (NC). Debate over the MRPO and the UDO would continue for the rest of the year.

In Memoriam – January 2012

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Shirley Walker

Mildred Price Cochran

Regina Hersey

Virginia Parker Correll

Bill L. Parker

Robert Paul Crow

Eric A. Gass

John A. ‘Jack’ Stephenson

Robert Paul Crow

Kathleen Goodwin

Lucy Foster Conner-Hull

Bobbie Jean Thompson

Stephen Douglass Fitch

Warren ‘Dennis’ Rome

Lillie Mae Hannon Conner

Audrey H. Hines

Michael Preston McKaig

Bill Terwilliger

Danny Mitchell Campbell

Katie McGuinn