Thursday, April 28, 2011
Just 23% Realize Deficit Largely Due to Commitments Made in 1960s and ‘70s
Monday, April 25, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
AGENDA ITEMS FOR CITY COUNCIL MEETING ON MONDAY APR 22
APPOINTMENTS TO BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS: Mayor Cavanaugh
nominated Kristin Brown to the Arts Commission. Councilman Homoki nominated
Dr. Kent Cubbage for appointment to the Housing Authority. I nominated Pat
Andringa to the Arts Commission and Robert Besley to the Building Code Appeals
EAST GATE DRIVE EXTENSION PROJECT/OAK GROVE RIGHT-OF-WAY
ACCEPTANCE - Engineering and Utilities Department Director Larry Morris has
provided us with an update on the East Gate Drive extension project.
As Council will recall, as part of this roadway extension project, East Gate Drive will continue in an easterly direction through the intersection with Whiskey road. By doing so, it will at some point intersect with existing Oak Grove Road, a right-of-way and roadway owned and maintained by the State of South Carolina. As such, our proposed roadway will not only intersect, but then overlap with this state-owned right-of-way.
After Larry's discussions with SCDOT representatives, and given our long term plans to connect this roadway with Centennial Drive, and eventually Powderhouse Road, he is recommending that we accept the Oak Grove Road right-of-way from SCDOT. Accepting this roadway and right-of-way from the State, via SCDOT, allows our extension project to proceed and prevents the establishment of a split right-of-way with two entities claiming ownership of it.
FIRST READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND THE TOWING ORDINANCES AND FRANCHISE AGREEMENTS. Aiken Department of Public Safety Chief Pete Frommer and City Solicitor Ben Moore, along with other ADPS staff, have met with our area towing franchisees to discuss possible amendments to our towing ordinance and our existing towing franchise agreements.
After these meetings, and discussions, a consensus has been reached between these towing company operators and our Public Safety Department representatives.
Exact prices for various types of towing are available from the City Manager.
FIRST READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO APPROVE A CONCEPT PLAN FOR PROPERTY OWNED BY MURPHY OIL. Murphy Oil, USA is requesting approval of their Concept Plan for a convenience store at 3575 Richland Avenue W. on a 1.35 acre site. The gas station will consist of 12 fueling stations. It will be located on an outparcel at the Shoppes at Richland at the entrance to the Wal-Mart campus. There are no external driveway cuts onto Richland Avenue to this parcel. The property would be accessed from the Wal-Mart parking lot and the western entrance drive into this shopping center.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved this request at their April 12, 2011, meeting with the following conditions:
1. that the access onto the center's entrance drive on the western boundary be right-in/right-out only and constructed so that left turns are not possible;
2. that the gas station canopy have a green standing-seam peaked roof and red-brick columns to mimic the detail on the Wal-Mart building, and that the design be approved by the Planning Director;
3. that a revised Concept Plan be submitted listing all conditions of approval within 60 days; and
4. that proof of recording at the RMC Office of an agreement signed by the applicant listing all conditions of approval be provided within 60 days.
APPROVAL OF ACTION ITEMS IN FY 2011-12 FOR THE PLANNING COMMISSION. City Council met on Monday, April 18, 2011, with the Planning Commission to jointly develop an Action Agenda for the upcoming fiscal year. Based on this meeting, the Planning Commission and City Council agreed on ten items. We believe that several of the items developed in the new Action Agenda can be completed this year with the continued cooperation of the Planning Commission and City Council.
Our City Attorney is drafting proposed amendments for the Zoning Ordinance for Council consideration at a later date. These amendments will cover inoperable vehicles at commercial locations, the definition of "family" and codifying certain recurring administrative interpretations made by our Planning Director since 1999.
REQUEST FOR CITY SERVICES - Ed Wilson petitioned the Planning Commission for water service at a duplex apartment he owns on Reynolds Pond Road. This property is in the City of Aiken water district.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved Mr. Wilson's request upon the following Conditions:
1. that an executed "Agreement on the Provision of City Services" listing conditions of approval be recorded within 60 days of approval by City Council at the RMC Office;
2. that the City Engineer approves the design and installation of the water system;
3. that when the property is redeveloped, the development comply with the City landscaping and signage provisions to the extend deemed practical by the Planning Director;
4. that there be no manufactured housing; and
5. that the extension of City water service applies only to the current duplex and any additional units on the property would require a new application for City water.
REQUEST FOR SANITARY SEWER SERVICE ON KELLOGG DRIVE, BATTLE COURT, AND CREEK COURT - Journey Real Estate Investments, LLC, has made a request for city sanitary sewer service to a four acre tract of land at Kellogg Drive, Battle Court, and Creek Court. Two lots at this location are contiguous to the Aiken City limits, but not currently within the city. The other two lots are not contiguous and cannot be annexed.
Furthermore, Engineering and Utilities Director Larry Morris and Department of Public Safety Director Pete Frommer have shared their serious concerns with annexing this four-acre tract.
Therefore, the owners have not filed an annexation petition; they have filed a request for city utilities instead.
The Planning Commission reviewed this utilities request and voted 4-1 to recommend approving it on the following conditions:
1. that an executed "Agreement on the Provision of City Services" listing conditions of approval be recorded at the RMC Office within 60 days of approval by City Council;
2. that the City Engineer approves the sanitary sewer system;
3. that when the property is redeveloped, the development comply with the City landscaping and signage provisions to the extent deemed practical by the Planning Director; and
4. that there be no manufactured housing.
REVIEW OF CITY OF AIKEN WATER SUPPLY FLUORIDATION PRACTICES - Over the past several weeks, Council members have received information prior to tonight’s meeting in favor of continuing our water supply fluoridation practices. Other citizens expected to attend Monday night’s meeting have shared their concerns with continued fluoridation of our city water supply. A summary of materials they have provided are also attached to this information for Council’s review. You will see in them that their concerns include fluoride as a toxic substance, a potential carcinogen, that fluoride is a chemical that does not promote health, and that too much of it can rot, not preserve, teeth.
The City of Aiken began fluoridating its water supply in 1955. This effort began after evidence from dental scientists established that levels of tooth decay were lower in communities that had higher levels of natural fluoride in their water supplies. In 2008, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and local dentists recognized us for over 50 years of water fluoridation. When the City of Aiken was recognized, DHEC representatives, joined by representatives of the South Carolina Dental Association, shared that the Centers for Disease and Control in Atlanta have called fluoridation of water supplies one of the ten greatest achievements in improving public health in the 20th century by preventing tooth decay.
They also shared that communities with fluoridated water have 30 to 40% fewer instances of tooth decay.
Council was told at that time that every dollar spent on fluoridation of public water supplies saved $38 having to be spent on treatment of tooth decay.
Minutes from that meeting are attached to this memo.
According to a 2009 DHEC report, approximately 91% of South Carolinians on public water systems consumed fluoridated water. Nationwide, approximately two-thirds of water supplies are fluoridated, or have naturally occurring fluoride in them.
Prior to 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended that the optimal fluoride level for communities was a range of 0.7 mg/L to 1.2 mg/L. The City of Aiken provided a fluoride level of 1.0 mg/L in its drinking water, the midrange of the recommended level. With more people utilizing dental care products such as fluoridated mouth rinses, federal and state officials recommended a voluntary lowering of water supply fluoride levels to 0.7 mg/L. We have done so with our city water supply since February 2011.
At tonight’s public meeting, for City Council consideration is a review of our public water supply fluoridation practices – currently at a level of 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water.
SECOND READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND THE BUSINESS LICENSE ORDINANCE REGARDING VERIFICATION OF GROSS RECEIPTS - After our meetings regarding our Aiken Business License Ordinance and payment receipt practices, City Council voted to end the practice of requiring business license holders to provide verification of gross receipts as part of filing their annual business license renewal.
Council expressed interest in adopting an ordinance to codify this policy change to no longer require gross receipts verification at the time of the renewal form filing.
SECOND READING OF AN ORDINANCE REGARDING PAYMENT DUE DATES TO THE CITY OF AIKEN THAT FALL ON WEEKENDS OR CITY HOLIDAYS. City Attorney Gary Smith has prepared an ordinance in support of the policy revision voted on by City Council at our March 28, 2011 meeting, regarding payment due dates.
As Council will recall, on occasion, payment deadline dates have fallen on a Saturday, Sunday, or an official City holiday when our offices are closed and payments cannot be taken.
The ordinance codifies that when these calendar conflicts occur, any payment due date deadline that falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or official City holiday will be accepted until 5:00 P.M. on the next City business day after a Saturday, Sunday, or an official City holiday, and without penalty.
SECOND READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO PROVIDE FOR PARTIAL TRANSFER OF CONDUCTING MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS TO THE AIKEN COUNTY REGISTRATION AND ELECTIONS COMMISSION.
For many years, the Aiken County Registration and Elections Commission has been helping our Aiken Municipal Election Commission conduct City of Aiken elections. We have done so through an agreement between these two election commissions outlining the duties each of us must do. Recently, we were advised that State Law Section 5-15-145 provides for the transfer of powers, duties, and responsibilities for conducting municipal elections to county election commissions upon the adoption of an ordinance by the Aiken City Council, Aiken County Council, and approval by the U.S. Justice Department. The appropriate ordinances for Aiken County and the City of Aiken have been prepared for the partial transfer of duties for conducting our next elections.
A copy of the ordinance and the related agreement between the City of Aiken and the Aiken County Elections Commission listing the duties of each is attached for Council's review. This agreement sets forth the same duties that have been in our agreement with the County Elections Commission for several past elections. The proposed ordinance will transfer these duties to the County Elections Commission after July 1, 2011. The agreement for election assistance will be in effect for future elections, but can be terminated by either party who gives 120 days advanced, written notice to the other party.
AMENDMENTS TO THE PEDDLERS ORDINANCE. City staff has made changes to the Peddlers Ordinance suggested by City Council at our April 11th meeting. Subsection (7) now clarifies that such activities occurring on the premises of a place of business require a letter from the owner or their designee granting permission. Subsection (8) limits the time period of a permit to six months. Subsection (11) defines as a felony any offense committed in another state, or under federal laws that is considered under South Carolina law to be a felony crime.
2010 US CENSUS RESULTS. The Municipal Association of South Carolina has provided South Carolina municipal population changes based on the 2010 Census. The City of Aiken’s official 2010 US Census population is 29,524. Between 2000 and 2010, the City of Aiken’s population increased 16.5%, or from 25,337 to 29,524. This US Census figure, and other data, will be used to determine our City Council districts, our state representatives districts, Aiken County districts, our share of local government appropriations by the federal and state governments, and, a host of other items.
ADPS SUPPORTS LOCAL STUDENTS. ADPS Director Pete Frommer has shared his memo that describes ADPS Investigations Division staff support of the Aiken County School District Career Center students. Their Criminal Justice program encourages local students to pursue careers in criminal investigations. By working weeknights and on weekends, our Investigations Division staff has helped the team from the Career Center win the state competition held recently in Greenville. This successful team of high school students will travel to Kansas City, Missouri in June to participate in a national competition.
ADPS OFFICER SELECTED FOR FBI NATIONAL ACADEMY. Lt. Phil Kestin is one of 8 public safety officers from South Carolina selected to undergo training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. This 10 week program, which began in 1939, allows attendees from all 50 states and around the world to share leadership skills, specialized training, law enforcement technologies and experiences with their fellow classmates while attending management, criminal law and behavior science classes. Lt. Kestin will attend the academy from October to December.
FARMERS MARKET REOPENS. PRT Director Glenn Parker has reminded us that the Farmers Market has reopened for weekend sales. Strawberries and asparagus are now in season. All sellers at the Famers Market have grown at least 50% of their produce on their tables. At the request of our sellers, we will not continue the Thursday evening sales this summer. We will, however, let you know of other programs to be held at the Farmers Market, when they are scheduled.
SMITH HAZEL SECURITY MEASURES. PRT staff is also in the process of implementing a photo ID policy at the Smith Hazel Center. Plans are underway to effect the installation of a more comprehensive security system there, along the lines of the installation done at the H.O. Weeks Center. We will keep you advised of the measures we take here.
WORKERS COMPENSATION AUDIT. Risk Manager Lex Kirkland in our Finance Department, through pre-Workers Compensation Audit measures, has saved the City close to $20,000 in premium costs and penalties prevention by ensuring our records for contractors working for the City were up to date, and all contractors’ proof of insurance were properly on file.
COMMENDATIONS. Congratulations to Councilmembers Reggie Ebner and Steve Homoki for graduating from the Municipal Elected Officials Course Institute of Government. This Institute gives municipal officials a strong foundation in the operation of local government. Participants learn about the role of elected officials and administrative staff and the relationships municipal officials have with other local governments, the state and federal government. The Institute includes two daylong sessions and three evening broadcasts.
Sara Ridout, City Clerk, was recognized by the South Carolina Municipal Finance Officers, Clerks and Treasurers Association (MFOCTA) for 50 years of service and her part in establishing the South Carolina Municipal Clerks and Treasurers Institute.
Dora Perry, President of the MFOCTA and Municipal Clerk / Human Resources Director of Tega Cay, presented Mrs. Ridout with the Award for Professional Excellence at the annual spring meeting of the MFOCTA in Columbia, SC on March 23, 2011. The organization has not had a member with such longevity. We applaud Sara for her enthusiastic service to the City and the MFOCTA.
Dr. Suzanne Ozement, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of South Carolina Aiken, has recognized Captain Maryann Burgess of our Public Safety Department for making the 2010 Fall Semester Dean’s List.
Bill Byrnes of Graniteville wrote to the Aiken Standard commending City PRT staff that planned and accompanied 42 participants on a tour of the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.
SAVE THESE DATES AND PLAN TO ATTEND:
FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2011 FROM 10:00 A.M. TO 2:00 P.M. we will hold our annual Earth Day event in Hopelands Garden. Mayor Cavanaugh will be speaking on the Windham Stage at 11:00 a.m. that day. A paper shredding service will be set up at the Green Boundary Club. Each year, we enjoy good community support and a vast array of interesting exhibits at this event. Over 700 area school 3rd graders are expected to attend. Palmetto Pride is sponsoring a puppet show.
MONDAY, MAY 2, 2011 – Council will conduct a budget conference to begin the discussion of the City’s Budget for FY 2011-12. The public is invited to attend.
For other events and other happenings around Aiken be sure to visit www.AikenIS.com.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
Michael Koblos [email@example.com]
Space Station Boon or Bust… The US cost of the Space Station that whirls around the earth at about 17,000 miles per hour is estimated at about $100 billion, and the Space Shuttles that haul stuff and people back and forth at $15 billion…each Shuttle round trip costs half a billion dollars…to this you have to add the estimated cost for Europe $14 billion, Japan $10 billion, Canada $2 billion, and Russia (cost unknown)…and these are direct estimated costs…if you add the indirect and associated costs to the mix, you have more money that you could ever dream of in a million years…
Was it worth it so far, and will continuing the program for billions more be worth it…???…who knows…I search the Internet to find out. what specific benefits have been derived for the USA and the world to date…I was unsuccessful…there are lots of wonderful things that were predicted for it to accomplish, in general terms…a shopping list of generalities used to justify it in the first place…but there is no specific iteration of what actually was discovered, attained, developed, etc, from all those billions of dollars, yen, rubles, etc. that has been spent…and whether it was worth it or not…we will never know the actual costs, or the actual benefits derived…ever…it’s like asking what benefit did we get from the two Iraq Wars…who knows…???… we don’t even know what they cost us to any degree of accuracy or honesty… I assume the Space Station taught us a lot about “space” that we can use when we journey to Mars, for whatever reason we might want to do that…and it will no doubt be worth the ZILLIONS of dollars that THAT it will cost…right…???…there now, don’t you feel better about it all…???… -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Struggle of Life…Life-forms exist everywhere on Earth, even in the environmentally harshest of places…and all subsisting off one another in an arrangement that has been woven into the fabric of existence since it all first began…an undeniable interconnectedness from the smallest microbe to the largest of mammals…and all along the way, each protecting its place under the sun…each doing constant battle among themselves protecting its marked-out territory…each devouring another in order to exist…humans are on the high-end of this interrelationship, and yet, are tied to the same struggle as every other living thing…..fighting what attacks it, attacking and consuming what it needs…and reproducing its own kind as best it can… the system goes on relentlessly…it can no more be stopped than the rain that falls or the winds that blow…
Humans look at ourselves as being somehow separate from other life-forms…but we are wrong…we live by the same rules of nature…kill to subsist, whether it be a chicken, cow, or other….kill to survive, whether it be a germ or an army…life against life…it’s the basic pattern of existence, not matter how you “dress it up”… -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Things We Did Back Then…I grew up during the 1930s-40s in New Brunswick NJ, a city then of about 22,000…my neighborhood was of mixed ethnicity…Italians, Poles, Czechs, Slavs, Hungarians, Irish, and a few Blacks…there were plenty of kids to go around, and we played on the streets and sidewalks…in my old age as I approach my 80th year, I often reflect on the things we did, and how and when we did them… looking back, there seemed to be an unplanned schedule that controlled our activities…at least as far as boys were concerned…in March we flew kites…richer kids flew store-bought kites…the rest of us made ours…April was the time for marbles, playing games called “potsies” and “ringsies”…
May started the baseball season, played in the street, with first base maybe a telephone pole, second a manhole cover, and third a parked car’s fender…the ball we made ourselves by crunching up newspaper into a tight ball and taping over it with Johnson and Johnson medical adhesive tape…the bat a cut-off broom stick…we played baseball all summer, interspersed with riding bikes, hop-scotch, hide and seek, roller skating, with clamp-on skates on smooth side-streets, and swimming in the local “pay as you go” swimming pool (if you had the money)…in bad weather we played cards or Monopoly in someone’s hall way… Autumn brought with it, football…our ball was a sliced open big rubber ball, folded into itself to make the form of a football, and taped up with J& J adhesive tape…we played “touch football”…in the street or a nearby empty lot…in winter we ice skated on park ponds with clamp on skates, or without…it didn’t matter…we prayed for snow, and made forts and had snowball wars…sledded on nearby hilly streets, using flattened cardboard boxes if we had no sled…these are the things we did back then…remember…???…and all without adult supervision…amazing… -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Something’s Up…The single handed manner in which President Obama injected us into the Libyan revolt could be yet another action resulting from his Muslim roots, and “the dreams of his father”, and those of his mother and grandparents… somewhere, somehow, there is “a plan” for the Middle East that, while not his, he is supporting, and I don’t think it is for our benefit…or Israel’s...or the West’s…there seems to be a unifying strategy behind all those so-called “democratic revolutions” taking place…things like what we are seeing don’t just “happen”…they are brought about…and with purpose…and with forethought…what it is, and whose it is, remains to be seen…we will find out soon enough, and, I’m afraid, we won’t like it…November 2012 can’t come soon enough…we need change from “the change”…before it’s too late…
Movie Remakes…The movie industry is constantly re-making movies of the past…but, usually, any similarly between the new and the former is purely coincidental…the reason they do it is because there is an absence of talent necessary to create new films of similar dramatic value…drama today has become synonymous with blowing up things, and technological wizardry, and women being physically abused…all with a backdrop of death and destruction…that’s what passes for drama today…it all is merely the humanization of video games…so the industry feels an obligation to produce something of quality by remaking past movies of quality, but they don’t succeed…ever…unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, today’s intellectually challenged young movie goers don’t realize it…
Repeat from 11 August 2007… Welfare Organizations... Do a Google search for “welfare organizations” on your computer and, would you believe, you’ll get a listing of at least 13 million 9 hundred thousand articles on the subject...that’s astounding…. working on behalf of “the poor” is big business in America....I’ll bet if you added up all the people in government and private organizations working on behalf of “the poor”, it would add up to more than the number of “poor people”...I guess, to paraphrase former President Clinton, “it all depends on what your definition of poor is?”....poor is a “comparative” word...it has to be understood as “poor compared to who, or what?”...the “poor” of the United States are the “middle class” equivalent of many other countries... there really are no “poor” in America...but there will always be “those at the bottom”....they used to be stolid vacuous denizens of our sub-culture, best avoided and ignored...we have turned them into whining, carping, lawless dependents... Anyway, let’s just take one of these organizations, The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law...they say “Like our founder, Sargent Shriver, we believe that the law can help get the poor out of poverty. We embrace a bold advocacy agenda that includes policy development and modern communications, resulting in improved lives for low-wage workers, families with greater economic security, and neighborhoods that preserve opportunities for low-income individuals.”... my question is who asked them, to do what they do…???...nobody as far as I can tell... All these thousands of advocates of the poor are similar…they may want to help “the poor”, but, rest assured, their executives and employees are well paid to do what they are doing, whatever it is that they are doing...they receive grants from foundations set up by rich people when they die, government grants, and donations from all sorts of other sources... there is no end of money available to them...and the more subordinate organizations they create, and the more “projects” they pursue, the more the money pours in...their offices are plush, and their travel first class… Every year they have expensive testimonial dinners and award ceremonies in their own honor for things they themselves deem worthy that they have done...what “true” good do they really do???...nobody knows...but, despite all that, they, and organizations like them do, along with the efforts of a myriad government agencies, and the billions spent, “the poor” are not only still with us, but growing in number by the day...rest assured, ”the poor” will always be with us...the comfortable livlihood of too many people depend on them to allow for their disapearance.... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Zen Point to Ponder... The universe is part of something else. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Forward The Blog on to others...they might enjoy reading it, and they can subscribe merely for the asking... all they have to do is send me an email and write “Subscribe”...
Feel free to stop receiving The Saturday Blog at any time, just hit the reply button and type in “Unsubscribe”...it’s as easy as that...no questions asked, or offense taken... Mike Koblos