OCPL repairs and updates during the last two fiscal years

During the last two fiscal years, Oconee County Council has funded much-needed updates and repairs to County-owned library buildings in Walhalla, Westminster and Seneca as well as the purchase of a new bookmobile and a one-acre lot across from the Walhalla Library, needed for expansion of library parking.

Below are photos of some of the improvements.  The labor of County employees from various departments allowed the money to go a lot farther.  Roads and Bridges staff paved the Westminster parking lot, for example, while much of the plumbing and electrical work was performed by workers from Buildings and Grounds.


New sliding doors at the Walhalla Library
New bathroom fixtures at the Walhalla Library
Repair and repainting of boxing at the Walhalla Library
Seneca Library’s re-carpeting project
Westminster Library‘s re-carpeting project
New roof for the Walhalla Library
New parking lot at the Westminster Library
OCPL’s new bookmobile, acquired through the County’s procurement process.

Tree removal on the lot acquired by Oconee County, across from the Walhalla Library’s parking lot
Gutters for the Westminster Library
New roof for the Westminster Library

Old ceiling tiles from the drop ceiling at the Walhalla Library.  Ceiling tiles were also installed at the Seneca Library and the Westminster Library by County employees.
More efficient lamps for the lights in the parking lot at the Walhalla Library
New stall walls and new bathroom fixtures at the Westminster Library
The lobby of the Walhalla Library during the replacement of ceiling tiles
Replacement ceiling lights at the Walhalla Library, installed by County staff
New sidewalk to the rear door of the Walhalla Library installed by County staff
Security camera overlooking the parking lot at the Walhalla Library.  The Seneca Library and the Westminster Library also received security cameras.
New sliding doors at the Walhalla Library from outside.  I am but a reflection in the glass as I take the picture.  I feel that during my five years as library director, the existing buildings were greatly improved through the cooperation of all the County departments involved in the various projects.


The Fair Play observer

Paul Cain, member of Oconee County Council(left) with Philip Mathews Cheney, former director of the Oconee County Public Library (right)

The Oconee Intelligence Agency lives!  It was always my intellectual property, used to inform the community about goings-on at the Oconee County Public Library.  Now I will use it as a vehicle for observations from my vantage point in the community of Fair Play, South Carolina, where my wife and I have purchased a second home.  Our legal residence is still in Anderson, South Carolina, where we’ve owned the same home for 27 years.  We’re both exploring options in our joint retirement.

Since we are now owners of a house in Fair Play, we’ve been involved in the discussions about the Pioneer Water System’s new water treatment plant.  As customers of the Pioneer Water System, we were amazed at the stance taken by Oconee County Council and the administration.  To attempt to block the construction of a water treatment plant that is designed to provide for the water needs of future occupants of the Golden Corner Commerce Park seems counter-productive, to put it mildly.  As some one pointed out at one of the meetings I attended, Pioneer Water customers, such as myself, will end up paying the legal fees of both parties!

Fair Play, I’ve been informed, was once an incorporated town, but gave up its charter just before World War II, apparently because it could not afford to pay the costs of the new state highway, Highway 243.  Some of the residents are considering whether the town should seek a new charter, in order to control growth, provide police protection, trash pickup, and qualify for grants.  Stay tuned for further developments.

New Bookmobile is finally ready to roll!

After many delays, the bookmobile constructed by Farber Specialty Vehicles is ready to roll! The original date of delivery was October 1, 2016, but Farber experienced difficulties in receiving the body from its supplier.  Blair Hinson, OCPL’s Branch Services Librarian, was the library staff member responsible for the project and admits it was like “birthing a baby.”   Thanks go to Ernie Beck and his crew at Vehicle Maintenance, and Derek Burnette and the staff at Diamond T in Fair Play  who provided the art work.  The bookmobile will make its debut this Saturday morning, March 18, 2017, at the Shaver Center in Seneca, South Carolina, where Seneca’s annual 5K and Half-Marathon foot races begin and end.



OCPL and the Oakway Intermediate School project

On Tuesday morning, February 21, 2017, the day the Journal published an article entitled “Former Oakway school project taking place”on page A3, I stopped by the school on my way to Walhalla and took the following photos.  A week earlier, OCPL staff members Blair Hinson, Branch Services Librarian and Janice Lovinggood, the Library Secretary, who lives nearby, met me at the school for a tour of the facility. Kevin Robinson, head of the Oconee County Delinquent Tax office, had been assigned the task of setting up the meeting by County Administrator Scott Moulder. Sheriff Mike Crenshaw, Terry Swain, a member of the steering committee for the Oakway Intermediate School; and a representative of Lifeline Church, which needs meeting space for several Scout troops, were some of the  individuals in attendance for the tour.

OCPL is interested in the possibility of putting a library branch in the large suite of several rooms which formerly housed the School Media Center.  Located at the far end of the building, the suite is approximately 3,000 square feet in size and has a separate outside entrance, which is handicapped accessible.  It also has its own parking area.   Below are photographs of this end of the school building.

Entrance to the School Media Center.  Parking area is in the foreground of the picture.  Some of it is gravel and would need to be paved.
The front of the building where the School Media Center was formerly located.  The Gymnasium is the tall building at the rear of the photograph.
Photograph showing the back of the School Media Center building.  Note the large tower, which the County now owns.
Photograph of the back of the School Media Center building showing the wall which provides security for the former elementary wing of the school.  A day care may occupy this space.
Covered sidewalk which connects to the wing of the school which may be occupied by a day care

OCPL’s Salem Library

The Oconee County Public Library was first established in May of 1948. The first library opened in October of that year in the old courthouse annex in Walhalla, SC. A bookmobile was also purchased and began operation in that same year.In 1952 a library was established in Salem.  In 1981, a new Salem Town Hall was built and dedicated  May, 1981, with provision for a branch library.  Oconee County leases a 1,025 square foot room inside the Town Hall and shares a parking lot and public restrooms with the Town Hall.  In 2014, the proposed capital sales tax plan included funds for a 5,000 square foot free-standing Salem Library, but the voters defeated the proposal 55% to 45%.

Dan Polk is seated at the far right

Dan Polk is the Branch Manager and Kayla Rucker is the Assistant Branch Manager.

The hours of operation are Monday from  10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Tuesday-Friday from  8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

      See https://oconeelibrary.org/locations/ for a map showing the relative locations of the four branch libraries.

Oconee County legislative delegation meeting, Thursday, February 9, 2017

Last evening, the three members of Oconee County‘s legislative delegation met to hear concerns from their constituents.  The meeting was held in the meeting room at the historic Westminster Depot in Westminster, South Carolina.  State Senator Thomas Alexander, State Representative Bill Sandifer, and State Representative Bill Whitmire make up the delegation and all were present at the meeting.  Also present was Carol Baumgarner, Delegation Secretary,who operates the delegation’s local  office located at 10 Short Street in Walhalla, South Carolina.

Left to right:  Senator Alexander, Representative Sandifer and Representative Whitmire.  Representative Sandifer chaired the meeting.
Senator Alexander makes a point
Alisa Suddeth, Chairman of the Library Board of Trustees, makes a presentation about the South Carolina State Library’s proposed 2017-2018 budget.  The State Library’s budget request includes an increase in State Aid to public libraries.  OCPL’s share this year, based on $1.50 per capita using the 2010 Census population figure of 74,273, is $111,410; it would increase to $148,546 if both the Senate and the House of Representatives approve the $2.00 per capita requested in the new budget.


Representative Bill Whitmire (right) responds to a question.  Mr. Whitmire chairs the House Ways and Means’ subcommittee that heard the State Library’s budget presentation by State Librarian Leesa Aiken on January 18, 2017.   OCPL sent a delegation led by  Chairman Suddeth and Vice Chairman Bill Caster, to this meeting to show support.   Note the OCPL ball cap on the table in front of Representative Bill Sandifer (left).  Each delegation member was presented with a cap by the library director, Philip Cheney, who was in attendance.
Carol Baumgarner, Delegation Secretary, takes notes.  The Delegation Office is located at 10 Short Street in Walhalla, directly behind the Oconee County Court House.

Tree removal from the Walhalla Library property

Today, Friday February 3, 2017, the arborist crew from Oconee County’s Road and Bridges Department visited the property across from the Walhalla Library to take down some dead trees.  The 1.167 acre lot was purchased by Oconee County last fall and will be used for staff parking and for outdoor programming.

Below are photographs of County workers in action using their equipment to cut down two large dead trees on the property.  Four dump truck loads of debris were removed during the day.

Track hoe being driven off the transport trailer
The County’s bucket truck in action.  The Walhalla Library building is in the background.
The track hoe is removing underbrush near the street.  The green in the branches of the  large tree is a tremendous crop of mistletoe.  As is obvious, the mistletoe plants had taken over whole branches of the tree and the tree was supplying water and mineral nutrients and physical support to the mistletoe.
Cutting the last limbs off the tree
The track hoe was used to dig around the roots and eventually push over the remains of the tree after all branches had been removed.
The second dead tree – before removal.  In the foreground are branches which had fallen from the tree in months past. In the background is the newly refurbished house formerly owned by the Carter family.
Remains of the second tree lying on the ground after the track hoe had pushed it over and the crew had used chainsaws to cut it up.
Site of the first tree smoothed out and covered with straw.  The dump truck is filled with its last load of the day.
Photograph of the property from the back dock of the Walhalla Library at the end of the work day