Columbia City Council meets
Columbia City Council met Wednesday April 15, at nine o'clock in City Hall. Council member Tameika Isaac Devine was absent, but all other members were present: Kirkman Finlay III, E.W. Cromartie, Mayor Bob Coble, Sam Davis, Daniel Rickenmann, and Belinda Gergel.
Judge Mildred Mc- Duffie's Community Promotions Advisory Committee turned down three requests: City Center Partnership, $13,850; Greenview Dolphins Swim Team, $12,847; and SCALE, Inc., $5,000/month. None of the three was approved.
To be covered later as a separate issue, the city's active and retired employee benefits came under heated debate. In the discussion were former Columbia City Manager Leona Plough and current city Human Resources Director Jacques Gilliam.
Joseph Martin, Automotive Technician III, was introduced as the April 2009 Employee of the Month. Martin has been a city employee since December 1978. According to Robert Phillips, fleet services assistant superintendent, Martin "has done everything he could to help and encourage those around him. He has excellent leadership qualities and gets the most out of his fellow employees."
The J Thomas Salon and Color Studio, 912 Lady Street, was recognized as the 2nd Quarter 2009 Business Spotlight Program Honoree. It's the only salon in Columbia that maintains a full- time make- up artist. The business was the host for an AIDS benefit with Morgan Fairchild that raised more than $45,000 for the SC AIDS Foundation. In the near future, a Women's Shelter benefit is planned.
Doris Green, Charlotte- based Census Bureau coordinator, begged council to help count its Columbians, every single one, in the 2010 census in order to collect its due from the state and federal government.
Tony Lawton, the city's director of Community Development, and Mayor Coble announced April as National Fair Housing Month on the 41st anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.
Mary Pat Baldauf, sustainability facilitator, recognized local businesses as the city's latest Green Business Members: Argand Energy, Brighter Solutions, CDA Architects, Colonial Life Arena, EDS, Free Times, Girl Scouts of South Carolina, Harriet Hancock, Hughes Contracting, Jabber & Isaac PA, Lucero and Watkins, Maintenance Engineering, Mid- Carolina Steel, Ranger Graphix, Safety- Kleen of SC, Sloan Construction, SC Methodist Advocate, Sowell Gray Law Firm, Tomato Palms, Quackenbush Architects, Watersmart of SC, and Wilson Kibler/Grubb & Ellis.
North Main neighborhood executive Fred Monk introduced Rebecca Spratlin, the NOMA Bark Park Committee chair, who explained to council the water quality advantages and the social positives in developing a dog park in the North Main area, specifically along the neverbuilt four- lane connector between 277 and 126. The recommended site is more than 12 acres bordering with Cottontown, Elmwood Park, and Earlewood, the three neighborhoods that stopped the freeway. Columbia has an estimated 19,000 dog- owning households inside the city limits and more than another 50,000 outside. Council agreed.
Don't look at the cameras
Bruce Trezevant of Project Unity USA walked council through his recommendations for a system of cameras in high- crime areas and inside potential robbery targets such as branch bank offices. Trezevant had already gained conversations and cooperation with SLED, Richland County, and the city's Police Department. Finlay recommended further staff- level coordination to be sure the proposed camera system is integrated at the outset, rising above politics. Mayor Coble volunteered to walk point for the city through the issue.
A proposed home for four people with cerebral palsy is located at 1672 Shady Lane, and Finlay has heard nothing but positive responses from his constituents. Still, he recommended a 45- day delay before final approval, just to give full and thorough notification through neighborhood representative Michael Quinn.
Council's next regular meeting is 9 am, May 6 at City Hall, corner of Laurel and Main.