on July 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

State grants favor Pickens over Oconee

• Seneca, Blue Ridge Arts Council: $10,000

• Walhalla, Oconee Conservatory of Fine Arts: $15,000

• Seneca, Oconee Medical Memorial Foundation: $10,000

• Walhalla, Patriots Hall: $20,000

• Westminster, City Hall renovations: $250,000

Total: $305,000

Pickens County Grants

• Liberty, Battle of Central Reenactment: $5,000

• Central, Heritage Society: $30,000

• Central, Gravity line replacement: $30,000

• Easley, Redevelopment of Saco Lowell Textile plant: $500,000

• Pickens, Rock Art Center Development: $15,000

• Easley, Powdersville Water District water main extension: $73,000

• Easley, Pwdersville W.D. Campbell Road project: $135,00

• Easley, Powdersville W.D. Fire Tower Road project: $240.000

Total: $1,028,000

Source: Budget and Control Board

SENECA — Pickens County dwarfed neighboring Oconee County in the amount of state money dished out through the Competitive Grants Program.

A five-member grants committee awarded Pickens more than $1 million to fund eight requests. That’s more than three times the $305,000 awarded to five recipients in Oconee.

The state panel awarded 212 grants statewide totaling more than $10.1 million.

Easley received the largest award in Pickens — $500,000 to turn the former Saco Lowell Textile plant into a retail center. The biggest slice of the pie in Oconee went to Westminster — $250,000 to go toward its city hall renovation project.

All of the requests for funding must be accompanied with an endorsement by a state legislator. Sen. Thomas Alexander, R-Walhalla, said Monday that he’ll be sending letters informing the Oconee recipients of their grants.

“I certainly endorsed projects for our community,” Alexander said. “Not all requests get grants. The focus of what I’ve endorsed are those trying to help with tourism or improving the quality of life. The ones that were awarded meet those objectives.”

Gov. Mark Sanford has been critical of the Competitive Grants Program, calling it a wasteful slush fund. Sanford claimed the program has no clear standard for how projects are selected.

Rep. Bill Sandifer, R-Seneca, disagreed with the governor.

“It appears that the governor wants to label anything he disagrees with personally as a slush fund,” Sandifer said. “It’s his way of disagreeing with the way business is done.”

Requests that did not make the cut, such as one for Our Daily Rest in Seneca that was endorsed by local state legislators, are out of luck because the grants program is not being funded in the new state budget that goes into effect today.

Alexander said it may take several years before the program is reinstated again.