I hope that this update finds you doing well here in the dog days of summer.

It’s an exciting and busy time for many families in the county as kids start back to school this week. Our oldest, Lilly, is starting 3rd grade, and our son David is entering 4K. My wife Kate is entering her 9th year teaching, following an 8 year break in which she stayed home with our children.

Share this on Facebook!

My family at meet the teacher night.

Ordinance 2021-19

The July 19th meeting agenda was amended at the start of the meeting to remove ordinance 2021-19, the property control ordinance requiring buffering and screening, from consideration.

Julian Davis and Glenn Hart both indicated prior to the meeting that they intended to vote against the ordinance, which would kill the ordinance.

There was a great turnout at the July 19th meeting opposing the ordinance. Make no mistake about it, public engagement is the reason why this ordinance was tabled. I encourage everyone to stay engaged and stay vigilant, because ordinances attempting to restrict our property rights continue to pop up. It’s almost like wack a mole, you knock one and another pops up.

Thank you all for your engagement and for holding our local government accountable.

Share this on Facebook!

You can see the video of me speaking at the meeting below.

Durham Speaking At The June 19, 2022 Oconee County Council Meeting

Economic Development

Partnership With Anderson County To Construct A Joint County Sewer Plant In Southern Oconee County—About one year ago Anderson County first reached out to Oconee County proposing a partnership between the two counties. The proposal was to provide sewer to I-85 exits 1-11 in Oconee and Anderson Counties through the construction of a joint county waste treatment plant.

Industrial development along the I-85 corridor is vital for the future sustainability of our county as we must diversify our tax base. Currently, one industry pays ~1/3 of the country’s taxes.

As you may be aware, the Sewer South Phase 2 expansion is planned to expand sewer lines to I-85 Exits 1, and 2. This expansion will require forced mains and pumps to move the sewage to the pumping station at the Golden Corner Commerce Park where it would then be pumped to the Coneross Waste Treatment Plant. A new sewer plant in the southern end of the county would allow for the sewage to gravity flow to the new waste treatment plant.

A major reason for an additional waste treatment facility in the county is that the Coneross Waste Treatment Plant is currently at its regulatory limit for heavy metal ions. So, if a new industry is interested in coming to Oconee County and their effluent has heavy metals in it, then they need not apply. This may hamstringing much of the future industrial development within the county. In addition to the regulatory limit, the Coneross Waste Treatment Plant capacity is already stressed during heavy rains due to infiltration. So, can the facility handle the additional load from a developed I-85 corridor?

Some rough details on the potential agreement:

A new sewer plant would cost ~ $50 million. Anderson County would pay $29 million, Oconee would pay $21 million. There is also a $10 million grant available from ARPA money. The state has earmarked $490 million of ARPA money for sewer. Additional grants from the recently signed infrastructure bill will also become available in coming months.

District 5 Councilman Glenn Hart, District 2 Planning Commissioner David Nix, and myself met recently with Anderson County’s project manager Jon Caime to discuss this project. Prior to working in Anderson County, Mr. Caime was the administrator for Hart County GA and was instrumental in the development of the multimillion dollar industries along the I-85 corridor in Hart County.

We scheduled the meeting with Mr. Caime because Mr. Hart had received word through county administration that Anderson County may be getting cold feet on the deal, so we met with Anderson County to feel them out. Mr. Caime assured us that Anderson County was committed and was proceeding with or without Oconee County. The deadline to apply for a grant from the ARPA funding is September 12th, so a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) would need to be signed between Oconee and Anderson County prior to September 12th. Mr. Caime informed us in the meeting that he sent over an MOU in June to the Oconee County administration. Following the meeting Mr. Hart requested a copy of the MOU from the administration as council had not yet reviewed it. You can view the Anderson County’s proposed MOU HERE.

If our county does not act wisely, then southern Oconee County will become a bedroom community with subdivisions for people who work the good paying jobs in neighboring Hart and Anderson Counties. We must plan accordingly to provide sewer with the available treatment capacity to accommodate industry, or our county will be left behind. This issue is on the council agenda for August 16th. I will provide you with updates from that meeting.

Share this on Facebook!

Structure Of County Government

Many people do not realize that there are several council appointed boards and commission that have various powers and responsibility within county government. I’ve decided to chose one board per newsletter to highlight, as well as the member on the corresponding board that represents council district 2.

This month I would like to highlight the county Planning Commission (PC). The PC meets on the first and third Monday of each month and is comprised of seven members, one from each of the five council districts and two at large members. Each member serves a 4 year term upon appointment that coincides with the councilman’s term in their district that appointed them.

Per the county’s Code Of Ordinances “It is the function and duty of the county planning commission to undertake a continuing planning program for the physical, social, and economic growth, development, and redevelopment of the county. The plans and programs must be designed to promote public health, safety, morals, convenience, prosperity, or the general welfare as well as the efficiency and economy of the county. Specific planning elements must be based upon careful and comprehensive surveys and studies of existing conditions and probable future development and include recommended means of implementation.”

District 2’s appointed representative on the Planning Commission is David Nix of West Union.

Planning Commissioner David Nix

Mr. Nix is a Navy veteran who served as a nuclear submarine officer following his graduation from NC State where he earned a degree in nuclear engineering. Nix moved to the area 30 years ago following his Naval career and has been employed by Duke Energy. Prior to his current position as an Operations Procedure Writer, Nix has worked in reactor engineering and has held a Senior Reactor Operator License in addition to holding the position of Shift Technical Advisor.

Nix grew up in Rutherfordton NC and was Valedictorian of his high school class. David and his wife Christie have two sons, one who works in law enforcement, and a younger son who is a sophomore biology major at the University of South Carolina.

Share this on Facebook!


With the June Republican Primaries behind us, there are no contested county council, state house, or probate judge races on the November general election ballots. However, two nonpartisan school board seats are contested on the November ballot.

These two board seats are very important with the school districts $100+ million budget and a seemingly insatiable desire for spending, as well as the ever creeping progressive agendas, such as CRT, in all school systems. The school board needs to serve as a gatekeeper against these radical ideologies as well as be wise stewards of our tax dollars. The seats that are up for election are District 1 (Tamassee-Salem, and Lake Keowee area), and District 3 (Seneca area).

For District 1 Dean Bare, the incumbent; along with challengers Amanda Holder and Keri Unsworth filed.

For District 3 incumbent Sandra Sloan along with challengers John Fallon, Jeremy Hobbs, and Riley Johnson filed.

Share this on Facebook!

Garden Wrap Up

In my April newsletter I wrote about Victory Gardens and how in previous times of war Uncle Sam encouraged everyone to plant home gardens to help with food supply.

We may not be involved in an armed conflict, but we are experiencing skyrocketing inflation and supply chain shortages.

I hope everyone that tried their hand at gardening had success this year. We were fortunate this year as God has blessed us with a bountiful garden. We’ve been fortunate to have almost daily rains in our corner of the mountain over in Whetstone Valley.

Gardening can be frustrating, but I believe it forces you to live on faith, because so much is out of your control. Nonetheless, our children, especially our 8 year old daughter, love working the garden. It really generates quality family time, and we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor all year long.

Share this on Facebook!

Our daughter helping process tomatoes.

Meeting Schedule

The county council will meet once this month on August 16th. Beginning In September, the meeting schedule will return to twice per month with meetings being held on the first and third Tuesday of the month.

All regular council Meetings are held at 6pm at the county office complex on Pine Street in Walhalla.

You can view the livestream of the meetings as well as view previous meetings on the county YouTube channel by clicking HERE.

You can download meeting agendas and all associated backup material HERE

Thank you for taking the time to read. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if I can ever be of assistance.

If you missed my previous newsletter and would like to read it now, you can do so by clicking HERE

Please share the sign up link with friends and neighbors who would like to stay informed and direct them to to subscribe to my newsletter.

You can also share this newsletter on Facebook.

Matt Durham