EDC contracts missing

First Byline: 
Susan C. Delk - Managing Editor

Although it appears the Barnwell County Economic Development Commission paid out employment contracts for the two employees they fired "without cause," no one has a copy of the contracts.
Just as the holidays were rolling in, news broke of the firings and transfers of economic development lands from the EDC to local municipalities.
Those land transfers had to be made through the Barnwell County Courthouse and are public record.
However, the employment contracts for Marty Martin and Sonja Hiers have not been made public.
Those contracts contained what former EDC commissioner Pete Grady called a five-year buyout if either were fired without cause. The contracts were renewed in October, according to Grady.
Martin and Hiers were considered "county employees" for insurance and benefit coverage and were initially paid through county funds. The EDC would then reimburse the county for those salaries.
From the Barnwell County audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, salaries for the EDC totaled $127,102.
Since there were only two employees, it is reasonable to estimate the payout would be approximately $635,510.
Five Freedom of Information requests have been submitted but no one has the contracts.
The People-Sentinel sent FOIA requests Jan. 10 to Barnwell County Administrator Pickens Williams Jr., Barnwell County Attorney J. D. Mosteller, Barnwell County Councilmen Lowell Jowers and Jerry Creech as well as to the City of Barnwell Adminstrator John Zawacki. All of the FOIA requests were answered by Monday morning but all were answered with no contract. Each of those requested said they did not have possession of the contracts.
Currently there is no EDC board after all members were recalled Dec. 20. There has been no EDC staff since both were fired Dec. 4.
The EDC office building was "donated" to the city of Barnwell, but after a S.C. Law Enforcement Division investigation was requested, no one from the city has been in the building, Barnwell City Administrator John Zawacki said.
"The EDC files (that were left in the building) are still their files," Zawacki said.
As of press time, SLED has not responded as to what their investigation has revealed.