PICKENS COUNTY — After months of meetings, discussions and back-and-forths on the issue, members of Pickens County Council voted to support Tri-County Technical College’s Student Success Center with a 4-2 vote.
Councilman Trey Whitehurst had expressed concern over the cost of the project — estimated to cost the county around $6 million — since the beginning but this time was joined in his dissenting vote by Councilman Carl Hudson. Both rejected the notion of being saddled with what they called the state’s responsibility.
“It’s the state who is supposed to step up and take care of this — this isn’t supposed to be on us,” Whitehurst said.
Whitehurst also said he disliked the notion of being pushed into the project when Tri-County Tech bonded the project before securing financing from the three surrounding counties.
“I know Anderson and Oconee counties have already signed on, but that doesn’t obligate us,” he said.
On the other end of the spectrum was Councilman Wes Hendricks who was in full favor of the project.
“We always say we’re all about building up economic development,” Hendricks said. “Well that starts with education. If we want students to get good paying jobs and stay in the area, we have to start with education.”
Councilman Chris Bowers said he was uncomfortable leveling the extra burden on area students if Tri-County Tech made good on their notion to charge students from Pickens County an extra tuition fee if the county didn’t participate, an idea Whitehurst said he viewed as a threat.
“If they want my vote, threatening me is not the way to get it,” Whitehurst said.
After continued debate, the resolution to support the technical college’s expansion passed with council voting to pay for the project out of a fund already in place for Tri-County Tech expenditures.
No tax increase will be imposed on Pickens County residents to fund this project, council stated.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.