Year in Review: The Bulletin looks back on 2016 (May-June)

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Editor’s note: All this week, we will take a look back at some of the top stories, newsmakers and images that shaped the year.

MAY 2016

Polk slips into first drought conditions since September

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After ending 2015 with more than 10 inches above normal rainfall for the year, Polk County slipped into a drought for the first time in nine months and was classified as “abnormally dry” in April, according to the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council.

Polk declares no federal prisoners at new jail, size of new jail reduced to 60-70 beds

In May, Polk County Commissioners unanimously approved declaring that its new jail would not house federal prisoners. Ray Gasperson said he was not in favor of the idea and motioned to approve a statement from the board that the new jail would not house any federal prisoners. Commissioner Keith Holbert added that while there had been discussion about the jail including 100 beds, the jail would only hold 60 to 70 beds.

Tryon receives 35 applications for town manager

The Town of Tryon received 35 applications in May and started looking for someone to hire since splitting the manager/fire chief position in February. Joey Davis, Tryon fire chief, was serving as town manager while Tryon looked for a new manager. Davis became permanent town manager in 2013 following the departure of Caitlin Martin (now Caitlin Martin Cothran and former Landrum City administrator.) Zach Ollis became Tryon’s town manager in August.

Landrum City Council moves forward with Operation Hope parking lot contract

Because of a growing demand for more parking spaces in downtown Landrum, the City of Landrum approved a contract with Operation Hope to build a parking lot near S. Shamrock and S. Church Avenues behind Soulisa’s Thai Dining and Operation Hope after more than two years of negotiations. The lot cost approximately $30,000 and created 22 new parking spaces.

Columbus looking at $320k for police department expansion

The Town of Columbus began looking at expanding the town’s police department and, after receiving five bids, determined it would cost approximately $320,000. The police department building needed an evidence storage room, more restrooms and a rear exit from the building. The Columbus Police Department has been located adjacent to town hall since 2010.

Polk considering $35,300 expense for Lake Adger appraisal

The Polk County Board of Commissioners decided in May to hire one consultant to appraise Lake Adger and the Turner Shoals Dam in order to try to sell the water resource. A bid from Hartman Consultants LLC of Windermere, Fla. came to commissioners at $35,300. Commissioner Ray Gasperson asked the board to consider talking to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission about dredging the lake.

PCCF acquires 430 acres along Green River

The Polk County Community Foundation purchased more than 430 acres of land along the Green River in Polk County in May for community recreation and enrichment. The foundation looks forward to offering recreational opportunities on the Green River property in the future. The purchase price of $1.3 million was half the appraised value and the seller, from Charlotte, received tax benefits for its gift.

Polk approves $1.95M purchase of another 19 acres for new jail

Polk County had its site secured to build a new, 60-bed detention center and sheriff’s office in May as well as new courthouse in future years and any other necessary government facilities. Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of 19.19 acres for $1,950,000 bordering Hwy. 108 and Park Street, partially outside the Columbus city limits. The acreage was formerly part of Milliken property.

Tryon approves almost $200K worth of downtown streetscape projects

The Town of Tryon began major streetscape projects in May that would cost approximately $200,000 on a contract beginning June 1. The projects included repaving and sidewalks downtown and on Peake Street. The contracts with Trace and Company were approved at Tryon’s April meeting. Trace and Company was given 90 days, or until September, to complete the projects. A sidewalk down Oak Street in addition to improvements on the intersection of Oak, Trade and Pacolet streets were included in the projects.

Polk considering 2.6-acre purchase on Park Street

The Polk County Board of Commissioners held a special meeting in May to consider purchasing 2.6 acres across from Gibson Pool on Park Street in Columbus. The parcel has an appraised value of $115,976 with the land valued at $97,000 and the buildings valued at $18,976, according to Polk County GIS.

JUNE 2016

Columbus approves 1.99 percent financing for police department expansion

The Town of Columbus agreed in June to take out a 10-year loan to finance part of a project to expand its police department building. Financing was agreed upon for $200,000 with Entegra Bank, which offered a 1.99 percent interest rate. The town planned to use $120,000 from its fund balance and another $200,000 in financing for the expansion. The town chose Dunlap Construction as the lowest bidder for the project.

Tryon Coffeehouse relocates, celebrates one-year anniversary

The Tryon Coffeehouse Co-op relocated next to Huckleberry’s in downtown Tryon at St. Luke’s Plaza and celebrated its one-year anniversary in June. The coffeehouse is operated by a group of volunteers and was started 17 years ago by Bill Ingham.

Polk County approves new budget with 2-cent tax increase

Polk County taxpayers saw an increase in tax bills this year following the approval of the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget by the Polk County Board of Commissioners in June. The budget included a two-cent increase to pay for half of the year’s debt service on the new law enforcement center on the corner of Hwy. 108 and Park Street. Two cents on the county’s tax roll equals revenue of approximately $262,000 and the county’s new tax rate is $3.75 per $100 of property valuation.

Farm to Trade Street event brings more than 300 people to downtown Tryon

The Farm to Trade Street event organized by the Tryon Downtown Development Association gathered more than 300 diners to a table as long as a football field down the center of Trade St. on Sunday, June 26.

Former Polk baseball star Joel Booker drafted by the White Sox

Former Polk County High School outfielder Joel Booker was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 2016 Major League draft just after he graduated from the University of Iowa in May. Booker won the NCBCA All-State Division 2-A honors in 2011 and 2012 when he played for PCHS and was considered one of the top outfielders in North Carolina by ESPN. As a junior, Booker hit .529 with a slugging average of 1.000 and .625 on-base percentage, with 14 multiple-hit games.

Tracie Hanson named FENCE executive director

The board of directors of Foothills Equestrian Nature Center announced Tracie Hanson as executive director in June. Hanson had been employed with FENCE since 2006, when she became its nature director. Hanson was promoted to operations manager in 2014 and has achieved her Master Naturalist Certification through Clemson University, Environmental Education Certification through the N.C. Department of Environmental Education and Non-Profit Management Certification through Duke University.

Wreck at BBQ Festival shuts down tennis courts

The driver of a Dodge truck crashed through the tennis courts at Harmon Field on Friday, June 10 during the Blue Ridge Barbecue and Music Festival after striking a volunteer on a golf cart. The tennis courts were shut down due to the damage to the surface, nets and fencing at courts 1 and 2 and the back fence facing Harmon Field Road. The tennis courts were repaired in December.

Retirement party held for Supt. Miller in June

A going away party was thrown for former superintendent Bill Miller in June following his announcement to retire earlier this year. Known as “The Facilitator,” Miller served 12 years as superintendent of the Polk County Schools system. He thanked his family and community for their support and said he would miss everything from athletics to graduation. Aaron Greene became Polk County Schools’ new superintendent beginning in August 2016.

Polk approves Lake Adger appraisal bid

The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved hiring Hartman Consultants, LLC to appraise Lake Adger and the Turner Shoals Dam for $35,300 using its capital reserve fund. The county has been looking at the value of the lake and dam in order to possibly sell both.

Eagle Scout prospect granted $2,400 for Veterans Park shelter

The Polk County Board of Commissioners unanimously granted Nathaniel Watkins $2,400 to construct a permanent pavilion at Veterans Park in Columbus. Watkins also received $2,000 from the Town of Columbus, $2,000 from VFW Post 9116, building materials from Henson’s Building Materials, and contributions of labor from Robert Carney and Myron Yoder. Dean Trakas designed the shelter, which was built this fall.

Meth lab discovered inside camper in Green Creek

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office busted a methamphetamine lab in June that was being operated in a camper in Green Creek. Darrin Alexander Bovee, 37, was arrested and charged with injury to real property, maintaining a dwelling to keep a controlled substance, possession of precursors for methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine. A methamphetamine arrest was also made in May on a Mill Spring resident for several charges, including selling methamphetamine, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Sunny View man dies after DuPont Forest fall

A 20-year-old Mill Spring man died on Saturday, June 4 after falling from High Falls waterfall in DuPont State Forest. Daniel Howard Schoren Jr., 20, of Mill Spring, was hiking with his family when he attempted to climb up the face of the waterfall, lost his footing and fell to the base, according to Transylvania County Sheriff David Mahoney. Schoren was a 2013 graduate of Polk County High School and attended Isothermal Community College in Spindale.