The Loris City Council met on Monday, July 1, at the American Legion Hall at 6 p.m. Mayor Todd Harrelson tapped the gavel to begin the meeting stating, “Good evening everybody and welcome to the city of Loris regular council meeting.”
Present at the meeting were council members Joan Gause, Lewis Hardee, Terrence Hardee, Mike Suggs and Jan Vescovi. Department directors were Brandon Harrelson, Tom Cocke, Lt. Larry Williams, Samantha Norris, Kenneth Moss and Kenya Wright.
Harrelson asked Terrence Hardee to present the invocation and lead the pledge of allegiance.
Harrelson asked for a motion to accept the minutes of the regular council meeting from Monday, June 3. The motion was unanimously accepted. He announced that the monthly Prayer Breakfast will be held on Tuesday, July 9, at Loris First Presbyterian Church from 7 to 8 a.m. He also announced that his program, “Coffee with the Mayor,” will be at The Grind on Thursday, July 11, from 9 to 10 a.m. He said that Independence Day is Thursday, July 4; all city offices will be closed and will reopen on Friday, July 5, at 8 a.m. He stated that the city newsletter was mailed out to residents on Friday, June 28. He thanked the Election Commission members and the precinct workers for their help with the election. Harrelson thanked the Loris Garden Club for distributing flowers throughout Loris during National Garden Week. He said, “Former mayor David Stoudemire and city clerk and treasurer Martha Dorman made sure flowers were provided to the nursing home and the city hall, we really appreciate that.”
As requested by the city administrator, Damon Kempski, to add the hearing for the city budget to be added to the agenda. Harrelson stated that a public hearing for the municipal budget will be held on Thursday, July 11, at 5:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall.
Samantha Norris, executive director of the Loris Chamber of Commerce reported that the Bog-Off queens attended the pageants this past weekend and that Miss Bog-Off Teen, Sarah Carroll, made the top 15 semi-finals. The chamber is presenting the first of the Summer Concert Series on Sunday, July 7, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Courtyard on Main presenting the Taylor Richardson Band and on Sunday, July 21, Down at the Barbershop will provide the entertainment. The chamber is also working on the 40th Annual Loris Bog-Off to be held in October.
At the time that the city administrator would provide his report, Harrelson said, “I would like to say, a lot of times throughout Loris and other small towns and big towns there are rumors and whatnot that gets thrown around. And, that’s exactly what they are most of the time, rumors.” He continued, “If it is a personnel matter we would like you to know that we do not and will not talk about personnel matters in open session.” He then turned it over to Moss who said, “Mr. Mayor, it would be present and prudence to refrain from having any conversation about personnel matters.”
Harrelson stated that the city administrator is on vacation at this time and proceeded to ask Cocke to provide a report on the recreation department. Cocke stated that the bathroom renovation has been completed. The All Stars teams have wrapped up for the season. He announced a football camp to be held on Monday through Wednesday, July 22 to 24, for ages 10U. Loris High School football coach Adrian Grady will provide the high school football players assist in the football camp at the recreation department. He stated that the recreation department will meet with the coaches to show their appreciation and to discuss what works and what doesn’t work for the season.
Brandon Harrelson stated he is working on the Hydrology Study, construction documents and working on individual projects to prepare for the next grant opportunity. Hurricane season is coming up and pop-up thunderstorms, we are working on Casey Street to clear areas to be able to help with the drainage issues. He is working with SCDOT to upgrade a piece of tile. He said, “I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks to the department of transportation, you have probably seen then all over cleaning ditches to fixing sidewalks and cleaning out the grates,”
Mayor Harrelson stated he would like to have the first reading of Ordinance number 04-19, an ordinance to adopt the existing budget as a stop gap measure until a budget for 2019-20 is created and approved. The motion was approved unanimously.
Council appointed Joan Gause as the mayor pro tempore with a unanimous vote.
Public comments included Kimberly Rudelitch addressing the council with her concern of requesting updates to the city ordinances which she addressed to council in the November 2018 meeting. She has stated that her family has had to purchase thousands of dollars in surveillance equipment to address the issues she has had with neighbors. Moss stated that he is working on the ordinances and had reviewed some of those the day of this meeting.
Harrelson asked for a motion to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters. While the clerk and city department directors and the press stood outside, council met for 30 minutes, the meeting was called back in session. Harrelson said no action was taken in Executive session. He asked for any other motions whereas Vescovi said, “I would like to add a motion to accept the letter of resignation from the administrator, Damon Kempski, that council received effective July 2, 2019.” The motion was unanimously accepted.
Harrelson said that he wishes Kempski all the best that he was a good man, he ran the city well and he appreciates his hard work and dedication through his leadership. Kempski was on call 24/7 and during the hurricanes that flooded the city, he handled the situation well. Kempski will be sorely missed as his love of the city, the love of his country and of the people of Loris.
Receiving a copy of the letter of resignation, Kempski provided no reason for his decision; however, it is his intention to focus more on his family. This was a difficult decision to make, and all those who worked with him during his time at the recreation department to moving into the position of interim city administrator to being offered the position fulltime. Kempski has been a prime example of a person who cares deeply for the city, he shows his love of children by spending time with his nieces and nephews and the recreation children who did not have a male role model in their life. He sometimes came across as a bear, but he is truly a gentle giant.
I, for one, will miss his candor and his concerns for the city of Loris. Best wishes to you Damon.