County Land Deal

Council Paves Way
For Tractor Supply

  Saluda County Council took action Mon., July 11, that sets the stage for a Tractor Supply store to locate in Saluda.
  Council gave third and final reading to an ordinance that will allow the county to sell acreage at the intersection of North Bouknight Ferry Rd. and Columbia Hwy. to F&A of Saluda, LLC.
  The decision did not come without some controversy.
  During the public hearing on the ordinance, Almastine Butler of Butler & Son Funeral Home asked Council what changed between last year and this year. Last year,  she asked Council to sell her business some of the county land, so a new funeral home could be built. Her request was turned down, because the Council then wanted to keep the land for industrial development.
  “This is a slap in the face to us,” Mrs. Butler said, adding the funeral home had been in business in Saluda for nearly 100-years, and was not going anywhere.
  “I want to know what changed your minds,” she said. “Did it have anything to do with the color of my skin or the money?”
  Kevin Crouch of Crouch Hardware said he was a former County Council candidate and is as pro growth was anyone, but said there is nothing on the shelves of Tractor Supply that can’t already be bought in Saluda.
  He mentioned 100-year-old C.B. Forrest and Son, Rodgers Fertilizer and The Hardware Store that have  been in business 40 to 50 years, and his Crouch Hardware, that began business eight years ago.
  He asked Council if they had any concern for the local existing businesses, or were they considering selling the land just for the money.
  When the ordinance came up for a vote, Councilman Jack Atkinson said he opposed the sale, because he thought the land should be saved for industries that could employ hundreds. Atkinson was the only councilman to vote against the ordinance.
  The meeting was the first for new County Council Chairman Jim Moore, and it turn out to be one of the longest meetings in years, featuring many long presentations.
  Ann Watkins asked Council to consider animal control. She told of a Saluda woman who was recently bitten by a dog and had to take rabies shots. Her medical bill so far has been $13,000, and she has more shots to take. The owner of the dog was fined $500.
  She produced figures that showed 18 dogs running free can result in  128 dogs the next year, 512 in year two, 2048 in year three, 12,000 in year four, and 67,000 in year five.
  James H. Allen of the Cherokee Nation discussed the Saluda Old Town Treaty of 1755, in which the Cherokees ceded lands to the British that now encompasses many S.C. counties. With the Revolutionary War just over 20 years away, the treaty had national and worldwide significance.
  Allen said “Saluda” is a Cherokee word, like the towns of Walhalla and Seneca. He said his tribal leaders would like to meet with county leaders and issue a letter of goodwill between the two entities. The letter could be placed in the museum.
  Council gave third and final reading to an ordinance providing for the recovery of costs by service charges from users of fire protection and emergency services.
  Fire coordinator Luke Downing said the fee would only be charged if citizens have emergency calls included in their insurance. Atkinson asked of the fee will cause insurance premiums to go up.
  Third reading approval was given to the ordinance stating a referendum will be held and the county voters will decide of they want to keep the present council form of government with five council members, or adopt the council-administrator form of government with five council members.
  Moore said he had been studying the ordinance and wondered if it would cost more money if the change in government passes, and the ordinance could fail if Council voted it down. Other councilmen said the voters should decide. The ordinance passed 3-2.
  Council approved signing an agreement with Pawmetto Life Line for a spay and neuter program for Saluda County animals. A van will come from Newberry to pick up animals and they will be returned the next day.
  True Blue Service was approved for painting the Westview Behavioral Health Building for $12,500, to be paid from the Public Building Repair Account.
  Council awarded the contract to Aiken Electric Cooperative to install broadband to underserved areas of Saluda County.
  Aiken Co-op CEO Gary Stooksbury, said the project will cost $2 million, with Aiken paying half the cost. The Saluda County Airport and 567 residences will be reached. Saluda County’s portion will be paid from American Rescue Plan Act funds.
  A $500,000 grant from Upper Savannah to buy a new fire truck was approved. The county match will be $50,000.
  Auditor Memmus Forrest and Assessor Justin Ridgell discussed the Agriculture Tax decision passed by the state.

Car Dealer Sentenced

  Former Saluda car dealer Kelly Wesley Sanders was sentenced on Thursday, July 7, 2022 after he pled guilty on October 7, 2021 to wire Fraud.
  U.S. District Court The Honorable Judge Donald C. Coggins Jr ordered Sanders to repay over $2 million in restitution to Benjamin Bradshaw, and others. He also sentenced him to five years Probation.
  According to Pacer, beginning in 2017 Sanders  purchased part ownership in Saluda Motor Sales Inc., and assumed daily operations of the car dealership.
  During that time he ran up over $200,000.00 in credit card debt, sent Santander Bank invoices for over 40 vehicles totaling almost $2 million , and then the bank give him a long-term financing agre-ement listing Bradshaw as the guarantor. He used all the money for personal expenses, and sham car repairs.
  He then convinced another car dealer to invest $500,000 in another vehicle dealership while using the money to make payments to Santander Bank that he owed from Saluda Motor Sales.
  In late 2018 the investors filed a lawsuit saying that Sanders had trans-ferred almost a quarter of a millions dollars to the banks. He then said, and employee had put it in the wrong account.
  Santander Bank asked for an audit to be done of Saluda Motor Sales, Inc. The Audit revaled over $2 Million dollars on missing inventory.
  Last October Sanders pled guilty to Wire Fraud. He agreed to make restitution payments of 1.6 Million to Santander Bank, over $360,000 to Bradshaw, and over $530,000 to investors.
  From SaludaNOW