EDC ‘donates’ land to towns

The Barnwell County Economic Development Corporation handed over property it managed to three towns in the county and one private company.
Four property deeds filed with the Barnwell County Clerk of Court's office show the corporation, part of the EDC, "donated" land it managed in Blackville, Barnwell city and Williston to the respective municipalities.
Land located near the Barnwell County Airport was given to the South Georgia Tissue company, a private company that was supposed to build a plant - but never did - on the property.
The documents are signed by Vernon "Pete" Grady, the corporation's president and chairman of the EDC. The documents were signed Friday, Dec. 13, and filed with the Barnwell County clerk of court Monday, Dec. 16.
Councils for the three municipalities each held special-called meetings Dec. 18 so council members could be informed of the situation. Each council went into closed session to hear legal advice from their attorney, and none of the councils took any action following the closed sessions.
It seems the EDC gave no indication to county council about their plans. Council Chairman Freddie Houston said he did not know what was going on when asked about the situation Dec. 17.
Houston, and county attorney J.D. Mosteller, have said the county's ordinance for the EDC states council must vote to give away land managed by the EDC.
On Dec. 17, Houston said county council had been contemplating a new economic plan whereby the county would give control of EDC managed property to SCA and let EDC Executive Director Marty Martin continue to manage the land -- but under the authority of the Alliance.