"Public comment" becomes a rant, no one calls down speaker

Speaking In A Threatening Tone.


It was a routine, business-as-usual meeting of Clinton City Council Monday night until a retired Clinton police officer came very close to threatening a council member.

Retired Capt. Jerry Campbell said Council Member Shirley Jenkins accused him of stealing some of her campaign signs following a candidate forum Feb. 25 at Presbyterian College.

“I’m going to be watching you like a hawk,” Campbell told Jenkins. “Don’t you ever accuse me of stealing again.

“I got no respect for Shirley Jenkins,” he said. “She don’t know how mad she made me.”

In a short response, Jenkins said she didn’t appreciate Campbell sticking his fingers in her face following the forum at PC. “I don’t care what you don’t appreciate,” Campbell said.

Campbell made several other accusations against Jenkins during his five minutes of public comment time without being interrupted.

Campbell’s outburst was witnessed by two District 56 elementary school students who were later recognized by council, as well as other children and several dozen residents.

Later in the meeting, council received an update from a Columbia real estate development firm which is developing a plan for a new Clinton library in the Industrial Supply Complex.

Council agreed to fund the plan and will be repaid if the property is sold for the proposed project. There has been no decision made as to how the privately-owned property will be developed or if Clinton will receive a much-needed new library.

Jeff Wheeler of Wheeler and Wheeler said “there is a long way to go” and many decisions will have to be made before the project could come to pass.

Wheeler said his company is working on developing a plan that meets the needs of the library and the city. “We want to understand the requirements up front and create a plan that meets those requirements,” he said.

Members of the firm have met with city officials, county officials, library officials, property owners and others during the process that began in January.

“Thank you for bringing all the players to the table,” Council Member Danny Cook said.

Wheeler said the Industrial Supply property – eight parcels – is located in the Clinton Historical District but is not in the national historic district. 

He said all the buildings in the complex combined are enough to construct a library up to the needed 18,000 square feet as well as 4,100 to 8,000 square feet of retail space.

He said planners have discussed how parking needs can be met for the complex, along with needed parking for The Cotton Loft nearby.

Wheeler said Ann Szypulski, county library director, said the new library needs open space, significant parking and meeting spaces. “I think we can meet the needs of historic preservation while creating the sight lines needed by the library,” Wheeler said.

The final part of the process will include a final plan and cost estimates, he said, adding that tax credits could make “the cost make sense.”

Wheeler said his firm will be finished within 45 days and will make another presentation to council then.

Council recognized Shayne Kiselak (Eastside Elementary), Osvaldo Salazar-Benitez (Joanna-Woodson Elementary) and Avery Barnes (Clinton Elementary), winners of this year’s Palmetto Pride/City of Clinton Art Contest. (Picture in April 10 issue.)

Their winning art will be displayed on the side of the city’s garbage truck for one year.


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