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Laurens County government plans to spend $5.1 Million in federal money to eliminate stormwater damage in the Watts Mill (Wattsville) community of Laurens. It’s ARPA money, meaning the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan Act.

County Administrator Thomas Higgs told the county council Tuesday evening that $3.7M will go toward Watts Mill where 200 homes are threatened with flooding and $1.5M will go toward fixing culverts. He said the county was “judged against our peers on a rating system” and it was a “Hail Mary request” where the county wasn’t sure it would get anything.

“If anyone from the state is listening, we are going to continue to ask,” he said.

The county soon will be seeking RFQs from contractors who can do the stormwater mitigation work.

In their continuing reports-received about Capital Projects Sales Tax projects, council was told the EMS Medic 1 building in Laurens has been gutted and roughed in with walls, plumbing, electrical and HVAC. A front stoop has been added and an addition will house the washer-dryer, HVAC unit and water heater; a Phase 2 addition for more space for emergency medical technicians and staff will have to wait on more money.

The Phase 1 project is about 90 days away from completion.

At the Airport, on Torrington Road between Clinton and Laurens, the CPST is paying for a new terminal building. Airport activities will be handled in a temporary building that, once the new terminal is finished, will be moved for use at the new Agricultural Center, being built at the Laurens Fairgrounds.

Council was told there is a waiting list for new hangars space for airplanes, and it would cost about $750,000 to build hangar space that could be rented for 8 aircraft. The Laurens County Airport is seeing small jets’ traffic from industries that want to fly executives in and out, but don’t want the delays of the Greenville airport.

The Capital Projects Sales Tax - an extra 1-cent on the dollar - was approved by voters in the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election and sunsets after 8 years.

Council also agreed to request RFPs for auditing services with a deadline for submission of April 30.

In council comments, David Tribble said voter turnout for the March municipal elections was very low, and the county should discuss steps to increase voter turnout. Diane Anderson highlighted Women’s History Month, said the county should look into brownfield mitigation grant funding through the Upper Savannah Council of Governments, and reported on the county’s attendance at a first responders meeting with Congressman Jeff Duncan. Chairman Brown Patterson decried voter turnout at about 20%, said state legislators are in their annual budget process, and acknowledged the Spotlight on Agriculture held recently in Clinton.