Originally created 08/30/97

New Ellenton council member resigns



NEW ELLENTON - Another special election is needed in New Ellenton following the resignation of Councilman Hank Rowland.

Mr. Rowland dropped off his one-line resignation Thursday, Town Clerk Barbara Long said. Other town council members received a copy of the councilman's resignation Friday.

No explanation was given for the resignation, which is effective Monday. Mr. Rowland is out of town until Tuesday and wasn't available for comment.

Councilman James Bradham said he didn't know officially why the councilman decided to leave.

But he said, "It didn't surprise me. He's got a big farm in Georgia. He spends a lot of time down there. That's speculation on my part."

No date for a special election has been set, but Ms. Long said the New Ellenton Election Commission has been notified.

This is the sixth time in two years that the town council has lost a member to resignation and it will require the town's fourth special election.

Much of the turmoil came while the town was fighting with state officials and NationsBank over who would repay the $5 million state loan that built part of a sewer system.

Mayor Randy Shaw pleaded guilty to embezzling sewer money and served a two-year federal prison sentence. A settlement in the 1993 lawsuit filed by NationsBank against New Ellenton was reached in February.

The council was brought up to full strength for the first time in months when Sammie McDuffie won a special election Aug. 5 to replace Councilman Chris Beam.

Mr. Beam resigned in April, saying he needed to spend more time with family and work.

In June and July 1996, Mayor Art Hanna and Councilman Michael Terry resigned. Then in August 1996, five council members - Mr. Rowland, Mr. Beam, Mr. Bradham, Greg Carmack and then-acting Mayor Eldon "Cork" Berry - resigned to protest a court order to use the town's general revenues to operate the sewer system.

Within three weeks, council members returned to work after Gov. David Beasley's legal staff said the resignations couldn't be given to Mr. Beasley and weren't legal. However, Mr. Berry resigned again days later.

As a result of special elections, the new council consists of Mr. McDuffie, Vernon Dunbar, Joe Gleaton and Mayor Paul Parker.