This state lawmaker paid a $3,000+ water bill for a complex whose water was 'coldly' shut off by the town

North Apartments on Palmetto Drive had its water shut off by town officials Tuesday. (Source: WIS)
North Apartments on Palmetto Drive had its water shut off by town officials Tuesday. (Source: WIS)

NORTH, SC (WIS) - They gathered outside the town hall in North – early in the morning – before its doors were even unlocked.

"I just wish we didn't have to go through all this to get a solution," said Rep. Russell Ott (D-Calhoun) to the town residents who joined him.

Right at 8:30, Representative Russell Ott entered town hall and did something that made an impression.

"Shoot! He's like a hero right now, so, hey, I'm grateful," said Marcus Patterson, who watched.

What Ott did was try to get answers for the people who live in an apartment complex on Palmetto Drive, which is just a short drive from the town hall. It's a government-subsidized apartment complex in the town called North Apartments. For about nine hours Tuesday, when people there turned their faucets, nothing came out.

"Me, myself, I have, you know, six kids that live in the apartment that need water every single day to wash and bathe," said Lakisha Patterson, Marcus' wife.

"As I went to the store and came back, I asked the dude that was cutting off the water what's happening. He was like, 'We're cutting off the water because the water bill ain't paid,'" added her husband.

What's most frustrating to the Pattersons? They had paid for their water.

Residents at the complex don't pay a water bill directly. Instead, it's included in their monthly rent. However, the property owner didn't pay to keep their water on – or others' water on – in time.

"I was able to get in touch with the mayor last night, and I tried to offer some ideas and solutions to get the water back on, and the only solution we could agree on was that I had to be here at 8:30 this morning to write a check for the outstanding balance," said Rep. Ott.

Tuesday morning, when Ott did just that, he became Patterson's hero.

"It was $3,100," Ott told WIS afterward.

Ott believes – even though she's technically not in the wrong – North Mayor Patty Carson could have shown more compassion and used more common sense.

"I wanted to be able to be able to have a conversation to try to figure out where we go from here, so that can avoid this type of situation in the future, but there was an unwillingness to have that conversation," he said.

Carson only had one comment to WIS. She said she treated the apartment like she would any other customer who fails to pay.

Meanwhile, the apartment owner – a non-profit based in Barnwell called Southeastern Housing and Community Development – said it never got a bill in the mail, and it's gotten them in the mail just fine in the past.

"It seems like [the Town of North] would have had the courtesy to call us," said Southeastern's Executive Director Robert Thomas, who added that his non-profit has hosted an annual community cookout with the town. "The mayor hasn't been very cooperative in the past."

Thomas said he'll reimburse Representative Ott 100 percent.

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