Construction of RW rec center approved and contracted without council’s knowledge

Construction sign went up Oct. 6 on the property of the proposed Ridgeway Recreation Center. | Contributed

RIDGEWAY – Fairfield County Council members Clarence Gilbert and Douglas Pauley say they were surprised to see an S.D. Clifton, Inc. contractor sign go up Oct. 6, on property near Ridgeway for construction of Council Chairman Moses Bell’s proposed Ridgeway rec center.

“While the bid totals are posted online,” Pauley said, “[council] has not seen the bids or been consulted about a construction contract. And we certainly didn’t approve any contract.”

So far, none of the bids or contracts for construction of projects paid for with Dominion’s $99 million settlement have come before council before they were signed and awarded.

After receiving a photo of the newly erected sign last week, The Voice called, then emailed Bell and Councilwoman Shirley Greene to ask if the county had signed a contract with S D Clifton, Inc. Both texted back to contact county administration for that information.

The Voice emailed Whitaker, asking how the contract could be signed without the bids and contract first having been sent to council for approval.

Whitaker replied via email, “I have a different understanding of the process. I will research your concern and get back to you next week. Have a great weekend.”

Asked to explain his “different understanding,” Whitaker never answered.

By mid-week, Whitaker has not responded with the results of his “research.”

According to the county’s procurement manual, which was adopted in 2014 and amended in 2019, “The acquisition of all supplies, equipment, services and construction necessary for the everyday operation of the County is the responsibility of the Office of Procurement, operating under the direct supervision of the County Administrator, pending Council approval for purchases over $25,000. With the exception of items approved by Council in the annual budget.”

The settlement projects, including the Ridgeway rec center were not approved in the budget.

The county website lists the four bidders on the Ridgeway rec center project. The lowest bidder was S D Clifton, Inc. at $2,386.000.

On the day the contractor’s sign went up, The Voice spoke with Jordan Gray, vice-president of S D Clifton, Inc.’s Columbia office. Gray confirmed that Whitaker had hired the firm and signed a contract to proceed with construction sometime this week.

“How can Mr. Whitaker approve the low bids and sign contracts for the $99 million settlement projects without council’s approval, without council even seeing the bids or contracts?” Pauley asked. “We need some answers to this before it goes any further. We have not even seen plans for the community center. None of this has been discussed, nothing in council.”


  1. Angela Harrison says

    It’s always Gilbert and Pauley, who we all know are being led by the nose by the paper. Maybe they don’t pay attention because they are too full of hate to see or hear. Stop trying to deny us what we need and want and what other districts have. The majority of district 1 wants this center and we’re upset when the last rep, Dan Ruff, gave back funds allocated for it.

  2. Marcus Polk says

    Coming soon – The Moses Bell Recreation Center.

  3. ive said it once and ill say it again the time has come for trapp bell and whitaker to go this is some of the things thats got up were we are they think they can do as they want and it all good i hope the people of this county do the best thing and let them go do not vote them back


    I think the old adage you get what you vote for, and who they want to work under them is certainly an understated sentiment.
    we got the lowest bidder to build and the most incompetent, people running this council to guide us.

  5. Kristi Gunter says

    If Bell wants something with his name on it in Ridgeway, it would be cheaper for the county to purchase a billboard and put his name on it. The county would gain just as much out of the billboard as they will the recreation center. It has been documented that the centers all over the county are under utilized and the money would be better spent in other areas. I wish our county officials would spend the money of the tax payers like they do their own, but that may be the case.

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