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 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

Walhalla, a German Settlement in Upstate South Carolina

In 1990, a book by George Benet Shealy was published by the Blue Ridge Art Association in Seneca, South Carolina. Reverend Shealy had been the pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church from 1968 to 1980.  After a short stint as pastor of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Greer, South Carolina, he retired and returned to Walhalla in 1982; he continued his study of the history of Walhalla and produced Walhalla, a German Settlement in Upstate South Carolina.  Copies are available for check out at the library.

Reverend Shealy details the historical background of the Germans who banded  together after immigrating from Hanover to Charleston, South Carolina and formed the German Colonization Society of Charleston, South Carolina, which purchased two large tracts of land in what was then the Pickens District* of South Carolina from Colonel Joseph Grisham.  One of the two tracts became the city of Walhalla. It should be noted that Sunday religious services were held in the German language from 1850 (the year the town was settled) to well into the 20th century.

The photographs below are of grave markers in the St. John Lutheran Church’s cemetery in Walhalla. I have selected some of the older headstones and obelisks that list the towns in Germany from which the individuals immigrated to the United States.

* Oconee County was created in early 1868 when the western part of Pickens District became a new county.  Next year, 2018, is Oconee County’s Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary)!


OCPL’s new bookmobile was delivered today!

This morning, shortly after 9:00 o’clock, OCPL’s new bookmobile drove into Oconee County’s Vehicle Maintenance Facility on Wells Highway.  Built by Farber Specialty Vehicles in Columbus, Ohio, it had traveled to Oconee County all day Monday.  The driver spent several hours demonstrating all its features to library staff.  Ernie Beck, department head of Vehicle Maintenance, and his staff checked all the systems to make sure everything met specifications and worked properly.  A few minor cosmetic problems will be corrected by a Farber technician in the next few days.  Then the new bookmobile will travel down to Diamond T Promotional Gear in Fair Play for a vehicle wrap identifying it as the new Oconee County Public Library bookmobile.

Funds for the new bookmobile were provided primarily by Oconee County Council, with a small portion of the funds coming from OCPL’s State Aid allocation.This bookmobile replaces the library’s existing bookmobile, which has been on the road since early 1998.

If all goes well, the new bookmobile will be on the road by the last week in February.

The new bookmobile pulling into the yard at Vehicle Maintenance at 9:06 a.m.
Side view.  Note the retractable awning, which will be used in nice weather for outdoor programming.  Note also the entrance door and the high window for natural lighting of the interior.
Rear view.  Behind the door is the wheelchair lift.
View of the other side.  There are two windows to provide natural light to the interior.
Bookmobile manager Brenda Lee stands outside the entrance door.
The interior of the new bookmobile looking out the windshield
Branch Services Librarian Blair Hinson and Brenda Lee in discussion with the driver/trainer from Farber.  The bookmobile is a mobile branch under the supervision of Mr. Hinson.  Mr. Hinson was the liaison with Farber during construction of the bookmobile.
Brenda Lee and Blair Hinson examining the interior
View of the back area of the bookmobile.  Extra shelves are in the floor.  At the back is the wheelchair lift.
A closeup shot of the nonskid vinyl flooring in the bookmobile.