Q&A: S. Main & Richardson

Have you noticed a dip in the intersection of S. Main & Richardson Streets? 

Recently, a resident reached out to me about this issue. He said,in part, “There was utility work done on S. Main that extended through the intersection and when they filled and repaved they left a large dip affecting the eastbound direction of travel. I drive through the intersection daily and the nose of my car drags. I don’t own a low slung sports car and I’m not the only one, you can see the gouges where it happens to many drivers.” He asked if I could follow up on this issue.


I contacted Public Works Director Jay Crawford who indicated that this dip in the road will be fixed by our Public Works road crew either today, Friday, December 30th or next week. According to Mr. Crawford, although these roads are SCDOT maintenance roads, the dip was created by patchwork during sewer repair work by the City. Therefore, we will correct the problem. 

If you travel this intersection regularly, expect this problem to be corrected within a week (weather permitting). In the meantime, use the intersection with care. 

More Q&A on Public Works

Lots of questions this week as we get closer to September 1st! So here are some questions I’ve been asked and the answers I’ve provided. Some of this information may be beneficial to others in our community, so I thought I’d post them here.

Q1: I haven’t gotten my packet, yet. Where can I get one?

A1: We have a copy available for you online here: bit.ly/2bn1zqN.

Q2: Today’s my regular trash day. My trash is usually picked up by now, but it hasn’t been. But the new service doesn’t start until September 1st, right? So what’s going on?

A2: New service does not start until September 1. There are two possibilities here: A) Service may be running a bit behind as ACE works with Public Works to become accustomed to our routes and as they try to make sure everything put out prior to the change is picked up. B) Many of us have become accustomed to determining whether or not our trash has been picked up by looking to see if the lid is opened or closed. The inmates the city previously used to dump the roll carts would usually leave the lids hanging open. So we knew they’d been by. However, the new automated trucks automatically close the lids after they’ve dumped your trash. So a closed lid no longer indicates your trash hasn’t been picked up.

Q3: Wait. Do I need a new cart?

A3: It depends on what kind of cart you have. If you have one of these, you’ll need a new cart.

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Ace will be delivering replacement carts to those who still use these between now and August 31st. There is no charge for a replacement cart. ACE has a list of those who have still been using the old green carts.

If you have one of these, you’re good to go:

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Q4: Will ACE still pick up things like old TVs, sofas, box springs, and mattresses?

A4: The city has never picked up old TVs…or any other electronics.

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Penny and I stopped on our walk to remind a neighbor that the City does not pick up used TVs. ACE won’t either.

And this is true with ACE as well. As for the others, ACE will pick up one bulk item from each home per week provided that item is 50 lbs. or less. If you need to dispose of more than that, you can call ACE to schedule a pick up for the next week.

Q5: How exactly do I bundle sticks?

A5: Check out this ehow article: http://bit.ly/2bND16k.

Q5: Where do I put my cart? In the street?

A5: You will still put your cart on the curb.  The rule to remember is that it cannot be more than 2 ft. from the curb.  If it’s too far away, the truck can’t grab it.  You’ll also want to make sure you have 3 ft. clearance on all other sides of the cart.  Again, the truck can’t grab it if it’s too close to another item, like a mailbox or tree.  This is an example of a placement that worked when ACE came through Westwood yesterday:

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No more than 2 ft. from the street but not in the street.

Q6: It says they won’t pick up anything not in the cart. What if I have too much stuff?

A6: If this is a regular occurrence, call and request a second cart.  Also, if you haven’t signed up for recycling, now is the time!  Using the recycling cart has decreased what we put in our garbage cart by more than half!  There is no charge for a recycling cart.

Also, remember that tomorrow (8.25.16), ACE staff will be at the Activity and Senior Center from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM to answer your questions about the upcoming changes. And you can always call them at 864.877.0505.

Read previous posts on Public Works here.

Q&A: Why the PW Change?

By now, most residents are aware that the City will be transitioning to a new trash pick-up and sanitation process, resulting in some changes for the collection of garbage, recycling, yard waste, and bulk items.  You can learn more about the changes and how they may impact you here.

Several people have asked why: “Why did Council decide to privatize solid waste services?”

As your elected representatives, it is our job to work to ensure that the City provides first-rate services to its citizens while also being fiscally responsible with your tax dollars.  The decision to contract with ACE Environmental for the collection of garbage, recycling, yard waste, and bulk items was made with that in mind (after carefully weighing other available options). This decision was the most fiscally responsible choice for the City and will improve the quality of all of our Public Works Department services.

Unfortunately, our Public Works Department has been long overlooked. During the budget workshops in March, we were provided with the following information: Public Works equipment needs to maintain the quality of solid waste service citizens expect total well over $1 million (just this year). We have garbage trucks that are no longer operating or barely hanging on. They are unsafe. We’ve been pouring money into them to try to keep them operational and safe, but we’re basically throwing that money away. Our yard debris pick-up is currently running 4 weeks (sometimes more) behind schedule because of a lack of reliable equipment (every week, I get calls from citizens about this). During peak seasons, it takes Public Works up to six weeks to collect leaves and brush.

Personnel costs to get back to the kind of regular, reliable service residents expect were estimated at $403,361 (this year alone). In contrast, privatizing solid waste removal services saves us an estimated $464,184 in annual operational costs. Given we do not need to purchase equipment, we will save an estimated $1,221,000 this year and every 5 years after. This makes a substantial difference in our city budget (not just now but in the future). Privatizing trash services also opens up resources for other areas within the Publics Works Department, such as sewer repairs.  This is an area in which we need significant improvements, improvements we could not have expected to make without additional significant expenditures in personnel. Once all of the information was in, it was clear to the Public Works Director, the City Administrator, and the Council that this was the most fiscally responsible decision (really, the only responsible decision) we could make for the city.

As we investigated options for privatization and negotiated a contract for services, we made it a priority to ensure services would be as close to what we’ve had before as possible. In our contract with ACE, we think we’ve done that.  The end result is that citizens will see a return to regular, reliable service. ACE will provide the same garbage, recycling, and yard waste services with some improvements that will actually lead to more efficient services.  There are some notable changes: Yard Waste/Tree Limbs must be bundled and cannot exceed 2 yards, Branches/Tree Trimmings must be bundled and cannot exceed 50 lbs., Leaves/Grass Trimmings must be bagged, Bulk Items are limited to 1 under 50 lbs. item per week. These changes, however, will increase the frequency in which yard waste and bulk items are collected from the current irregular schedule to weekly collections. By restricting amounts and standardizing the manner in which items are placed curbside, ACE will guarantee consistent, frequent collection.  We expect the extra effort to have a great overall impact to our community. Weekly collection improves the appearance of neighborhoods by reducing unsightly piles. We also anticipate fewer storm drain problems resulting from leaves in catch basins.

You can get additional information about the upcoming changes as well as the new collection routes online: http://www.simpsonvillepublicworks.org/news-alerts.html. Or you can call our Public Works Director, Jay Crawford at 864.967.9531. He’s the expert on this transition and is happy to speak to residents. Also, the Public Works Department will be available later this month to answer additional questions and to provide some free yard bags: Saturday, August 20 – Simpsonville Farmer’s Market from 8-12; Thursday, August 25 – Activity and Senior Center from 10-12.

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Q&A: “What is Your Vision, Jenn?”

Earlier today I posted this on my Facebook page:

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Tonight, I received a response on that post that asked this: “What is your vision Jenn?”  As with my last response to a Facebook question, I have a little more to say than fits into a Facebook comment box, and I want everyone to have the opportunity to see my response, so I’m posting it here:

First and foremost, I envision the future of the school as a place that is truly for the people, by the people, and of the people. What do the people want? What will most benefit them? How can they make use of the space to improve their lives?

To this end, I think it’s great that Councilman Taylor Graham attended our concerned citizens meeting, recognizing that citizen input is key to determining the best possible usage of that building. I am happy that the city has some sort of plan for focus groups sometime in the future to get citizen feedback.

Regardless of what we decide to do with the elementary school, I firmly believe we need access to the arts for all of our citizens and a stronger commitment to community and cultural programs and services. It is my opinion that the school offers us a unique opportunity as a place that could help us fulfill such a commitment. It’s there. It’s empty. We own it. We need to do something with it. Why not this?

Imagine the school once again alive with the sound of children laughing, playing, learning. And imagine it weren’t just children.

Imagine adults—people of all ages—laughing in the auditorium seats or singing on its stage; drawing, painting, or sculpting in studio classrooms; or browsing halls lined with the work of local & regional artists. Imagine them learning more about Simpsonville’s history during programs like those presented by the Simpsonville Museum of Revolutionary War Museum. Imagine them attending a book reading by a local author.

These are just examples—the specifics of what could and would be offered there would be determined by the people. As I said originally, it would be something that is uniquely Simpsonville—something that encourages community pride for our citizens through arts and culture.

So imagine a place that would enrich all of our lives and our community through a variety of cultural activities, through exposure to the arts, through a shared sense of community. That’s my vision.

And it’s a vision that will yield multiple social and economic benefits to our city. It’s a vision we can accomplish if we’re all working together towards the same goal: one better Simpsonville for all.

Response to Facebook Inquiry

I received the following comment on Facebook, and as I began to type out my response, I realized it wasn’t Facebook-sized, so I decided to include it here and just link it:

beth langely

I’ll give you the short answer here and invite you to come on out to Tea N Things on Monday evening for the meet the candidates event to talk about it some more. Hope to see you there!

  • “How do you plan on drawing business here?”

My vision for increasing economic development in Simpsonville relies on creating stronger partnerships between the city government, business owners, non-profit and community groups, etc. As Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, success takes care of itself.”  We need everyone in Simpsonville on board. I believe the mayor and council should provide the vision and leadership to make that happen. Further, I believe that community development is economic development. And I believe that it starts (and is successful) when the city government has a broad vision for community & economic development to guide its decisions. Every decision should be preceded by the question, “how does this (or does this not) help us accomplish our long-term goal?” When potential businesses see a community thriving, they are naturally attracted to it. When they know that the city will help support them in becoming established as part of that community, they are more inclined to join the community.  When they see everyone working together towards one shared goal: the betterment of the city, they know they will be successful, that we’ll all be successful, and are far more likely to choose Simpsonville as a place to start/open a business. When they see strong leaders with a clear vision, they want to be a part of that.

  • “How are you planning to pay for putting the arts in the old school building? Are you going to raise taxes or take money needed to fund other departments to pay for it?”

Bringing arts and culture to Simpsonville starts with a vision—a vision that the city government should share and commit to. From there, specific planning can begin. That planning will need to include multiple stakeholders. I will say again that creating stronger partnerships between the city government, business owners, non-profit and community groups, etc. is incredibly important to achieving this vision. Establishing an Arts Center is a long-term goal. It won’t happen overnight. But it won’t happen at all if we do not have leaders committed to a vision that includes one. It will also not be something I alone do—it will be a team effort, and all good teams start with a shared goal. On raising taxes: We just had a tax increase. We need to avoid increasing taxes again. We also need to ensure that we maintain the first rate services we’ve come to expect in Simpsonville. These same services that make it enjoyable for us to live here also attract new residents and businesses. That’s good for the city. And we certainly can’t cut necessary services to fund an Arts Center; that would be irresponsible.  I will say on a related note that I would like to see our departments adopt a zero-based budgeting (ZBB) model. In my experience (I have had to do this in my role as a department head in the public sector), ZBB creates a more efficient allocation of resources. This can help us “trim the fat” (if there is any), so that we can maintain those services without increasing taxes (this is true whether there’s an Arts Center or not).  We need to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

Again, I hope to see you at the Meet the Candidates event on Monday evening! Click here to register.