top of page
LL_NewspaperAd_3_edited.jpg

Town of Chapin officials shocked & angered by Lexington County Councilmember who verbally attacks Chapin staffer at council meeting

Chapin, SC 06/08/2024 (Paul Kirby) – The mayor of Chapin, its town council members, and senior members of Chapin’s administrative staff were shocked and angered when the Lexington County Council member for the Chapin area verbally lost her temper and resorted to yelling and screaming as their Tuesday night’s meeting was breaking up. Chapin’s Mayor Al Koon called the attack, “very unprofessional and absolutely shocking,” after the outburst that was primarily aimed at Chapin’s Town Administrator Nicholle Burroughs.

 

Koon said that he was surprised to see Lexington County Council Member Charli Wessinger show up at the meeting. “Although Charli represents this area of Lexington County and all the citizens of the Town of Chapin, she never attends our meetings. During a heated discussion a year or so ago between she and I, she told me that she was done with the town.  Just the fact that she was there was a surprise to many of us,” Koon stated. “Of course, she is always welcome.”

 

What apparently set Wessinger off was a briefing that Town Administrator Nicholle Burroughs had given to Chapin’s leaders during the meeting about an issue that has many mayors across the County upset at what many are calling strong arm tactics to get the County’s way. “Lexington County wants us to use their zoning and development rules and simply abandon or adapt our own. Chapin’s zoning and planning fits what is going on in Chapin and not necessarily the County,” he continued.



Mayor Koon went on to say, “All municipalities in the County received a letter from Lexington County in late November of 2023 saying they were canceling a 46-year-old agreement between all the county municipalities and the County regarding the maintenance of roads and storm drainage in the cities and towns. “We received this letter out of the blue without any warning at all,” Koon continued.  The County elected to cancel the agreement effective the end of February 2024.

 

“Then, in late February of 2024, we received another letter offering a new proposed agreement. The Town of Chapin was advised by our legal staff not to sign the agreement. Doing so would override the lawful rights of the Town and its Planning Commission.  This was the case with 13 of the 14 municipalities of the County that attended. This left little time before the end of the month for our Council to meet and formulate a response. I’m talking 6 days or so between the letters, not a few weeks,” Mayor Koon stated.  

 

Koon pointed out that at this point, the County had simply been communicating through letters and Councilmember Wessinger nor anyone else from the County had ever proposed a face-to-face meeting with Town officials. “It would have been simple for Wessinger to stop by the Chapin Town Hall and talk with us, but that never happened,” Mayor Koon stated. “Wessinger lives just outside the Town and drives through regularly. Not only did she not stop by and talk with us about the agreement, but we also rarely ever see her at the Town Hall for any reason. That’s why we were so surprised when she just showed up at our meeting last Tuesday,” Koon stated.

 

In a letter to the Town of Chapin from Lexington County that they received on June 5, 2024, the County stated that the Town of Chapin had made no, “good faith attempts to negotiate a new roads service contract.” Koon says that’s simply not true. “After we received the late February letter, Chapin’s Town Administrator called County Council member Wessinger to set up a meeting.  The meeting was scheduled to be held in Lexington. The Town Administrator and I travelled to Lexington and met with County Administrator Sturkie, Ms. Wessinger, Michael Spires, and Robbie Derrick. In this meeting, our Town Administrator made numerous suggestions of how compromises could be made. These were 100% dismissed by County representatives,” Koon said. “We left that meeting feeling as if we had totally wasted a drive and our time.”

 

Mayor Koon went on to say that the next meeting was requested and held, again in Lexington, between representatives from seven Lexington County municipalities with Council Chairwoman Beth Carrigg and Administrator Lynn Sturkie.  All municipal leaders stated that each of their legal counsels had advised their respected municipalities not to sign the proposed agreement and that in their legal opinion, it was likely unlawful.  They also requested Ms. Carrigg ask the Council if they would reinstate the old agreement with ALL municipalities so that discussions could take place to reach new agreements.  Right after the meeting, the town administrator and I called Ms. Wessinger to update her on the meeting and relay our request that the old agreement be reinstated to all municipalities. In a subsequent Council meeting held during the following week, the County Council voted to offer the old agreement to the municipalities of West Columbia, Cayce, and Springdale. Ms. Wessinger then made a motion to offer the old agreement to Irmo as well.  She never mentioned Chapin. Why these four municipalities were chosen and not all of them is confusing and remains a mystery today. “We were told that these were the largest municipalities in the County. That’s simply not true and we felt it was an excuse to show favoritism. The Town of Lexington is one of the largest, if not the largest municipality in Lexington County, yet they weren’t offered the extension. We were also told Irmo was included because they had no room around them to expand their boundaries. That’s also not true. Simply look at the Town of Irmo’s web page where their boundaries are defined and where their position on annexation is presented. They have had parts of their town in Richland County for years and can annex more acreage in Richland County if that’s what the people who live in those areas desire,” Koon stated.

It is noted that as of today, only one of the fourteen municipalities in the County has signed any such agreement.

 

“The next contact Town of Chapin officials had with Ms. Wessinger was when she showed up unannounced with her sister by her side at our Town Council meeting last Tuesday, June 4th.” Koon stated. “Again, I was a bit startled by that because since she’s been elected to County Council, I can’t recall her ever attending one of our meetings. I understand from folks who sat around her and her sister at that meeting that they made snide comments throughout the meeting. You just don’t do that. It’s impolite and a breach of decorum. If I had heard it at the time, I would have properly addressed the issue.  As soon as the meeting was over, she threw her tantrum,” Koon stated. “I can think of numerous ways that could have been handled differently. They accuse us of not negotiating in good faith when in fact we had tried by requesting and attending meetings as described above.”

 

At this point, Lexington County says that they are still maintaining roads and storm drainage for homes in the Town of Chapin.  The problem is, because of a lack of good faith negotiations between the Town and County, there is no written agreement. The county cancelled the old agreement effective the end of February 2024. It is common practice that services within the Town are documented by formal agreements.  Clearly that is important both for the present and the future. In the words of Mayor Al Koon, “You can’t just run something this important on someone’s word or a handshake.  There simply isn’t an agreement in place. We appreciate the County maintaining these roads, but it needs to be documented in a formal agreement just like the old agreement was.”

 

“Again, it is not appropriate for the county to say here’s the agreement, just sign it. We are talking about some standards by which we can all live,” Koon stated. “Personally, I am not a fan of having nine members of County Council, eight of which live nowhere close to Chapin, dictate what is done locally in the Town. I want OUR Town residents to have that determination. Having a Council Member come into the Town’s council chambers and berate any of our staff like Ms. Wessinger did on June 4th does not promote working together. Having said that, we are open to working productively with the County. That is the way it should be, and we will continue to work accordingly. Our Town, and the other municipalities in the county deserve more.

 

As of Friday, June 7, Lexington County has asked that Town of Chapin officials attend another meeting at the County Administration Building on South Lake Drive Monday to discuss this situation. It remains to be seen if the meeting will be an opportunity to negotiate or for Lexington County to dictate what the Town will do.


PHOTO CAPTION: Carlene "Charli" Wessinger



11 Comments


harry
Jun 16

don't let Charli bully you, Lexington County Council is out of control and think they don't answer to anybody. We missed a great chance for change!


Like

Derek Bergeson
Derek Bergeson
Jun 11

Mind numbing read…why people waste their time reading this publication is beyond me. Blatantly one sided…

Like

jackietbanton
Jun 09

Paul, If you can’t write the facts then you shouldn’t be writing at all. Charli is very concerned about the responsible growth of Lexington County and that concern stemmed in Chapin years ago. Charli is an active member of the Chapin Community and you sir should be ashamed of yourself for stating anything less! Why write lies when you had the opportunity to interview and quote the person that you’re making false accusations about?


Do better or turn your paper over to someone who will.


Jackie Jackson Banton

Like

Sharon Whitacre
Sharon Whitacre
Jun 08

As a member of the Original LCRP (we never left). I can tell you that journalism in the entire Columbia area is extremely poor at getting both sides of the story. One would almost conclude the media has been told what they can and can't report by the "powers that be". We never had one article written from our side after the splinter group left, so we know very well how Liesha and Council Member Wessinger feel !

Like

liesha.huffstetler
Jun 08

Al Koon and Paul Kirby are good friends. This explains the biased article. Kirby violates the rules of journalism: found at  https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

The foundation of ethical journalism:

  1. accuracy; not accurate.

  2. independence;

  3. impartiality;- no bias to friends, did not even call Charli Wessinger to get her side or get a quote.

  4. humanity;

  5. accountability.

Like
JD Black
JD Black
Jun 09
Replying to

Exactly, yet another fake news hit piece by and a very poor effort at balanced journalism.

Had Chapin properly planned the County would not have to take over the development plan (or lack thereof). Chapin could be a great town had the leaders possessed the foresight to first grow towards the dirt roads that surround the town building. Absolutely ridiculous and a total lack of planning on Chapin’s part. This is no different than the state taking over poor performing school districts. Chapin town council get you act together and don’t complain when the county has to take over your incompetent planning efforts.


For those that are tired of fake journalism and one sided hit pieces stop advertising in this…

Like
Call the Editor
(803) 587-3144

Counter reset on January 30, 2018 with total hits of 966,512 to date

Call Paul Kirby

(803) 587-3144

bottom of page