Bamberg County hospital and courthouse renovation projects are progressing, District Administrator Joey Preston reported during Monday’s county council meeting.
The conversion of the county’s disused hospital into a multi-service complex is on schedule, he said.
Preston said in June that the county hopes to move the sheriff’s department to the building in October, along with the Department of Health and the Bureau of Veterans Affairs.
Shortly thereafter, the county plans to relocate its coroner’s office and emergency response center.
Preston also reported on the renovations to the county courthouse.
“We have started to remove the hazardous materials. … The courthouse is now cleaned out and we’re starting to clean out all the bad stuff. Meanwhile, we will move to the bidding phase and tender parts of the work, so to speak, over a period of time to make sure we get the best possible prices,” the administrator said after the August meeting.
Preston also presented a progress report on the work of the Palmetto Rural Telephone Co-Op, which is expanding broadband service in the county with a grant from the state’s broadband infrastructure program.
Phase 1 service installations are underway. Phase 2 splicing/testing work is currently being completed, with service installations scheduled to take place between September 1st and April 1st, 2023.
Phase 1 consists of Hadwin Road, Orange Grove Road and the Clear Pond area. Phase 2 includes the Lodge Road, Pocketville Road, Ashton Road, Rivers Bridge Road and Ehrhardt areas.
Individuals can visit the PRTC website at prtc.us to learn more about services and pricing or call 843-538-2020 directly.
The administrator also provided a report on the 2022 millage increase in the state’s 26 counties.
“I was curious because I’ve been watching across the state what’s been going on with the counties and the Millage and their budgets and ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds and all of that over the past year to see where people have fallen . I was a little taken aback by the fact that there have been so many counties with tax increases over the past year,” Preston later said.
“It was kind of neat. It doesn’t happen often, but we were the only county in South Carolina that actually reduced mills by 3.5 million. … For our region I thought it was a pretty good thing to let people know because they’re always upset about Millage,” he said. “We are the only acceptance in South Carolina. … I thought you could say that to the council members.”
The district has received $2.7 million in ARPA funding, some of which has already been used.
“We paid our money to employees to get their vaccinations. That was ARPA money. We have used part of it in the budget. You must spend it within two years. We don’t budget for recurring costs, but rather one-time expenses. … Most of it we’re still trying to figure out what’s going to happen with it in the future. So we’re working on some plans for that,” the admin later said.
He continued: “We have a healthy treasury balance but we will abide by the law. We already underwent a federal review that said we were on the right track with what we were doing.”
The council also heard from the manager about the works on Bristow Road in Denmark.
“This is a street that is within the city limits of Denmark. It’s a road scraping the county for Denmark. Denmark buried a water pipe in the street and they didn’t bury it deep enough. We showed photos of the uncovered aqueduct and told the council we would not be working on that road. We have stopped all work until Denmark goes out and buries the water pipe, as it should be,” the administrator later said.
He said the city has started working to properly bury the aqueduct.
“We reported it a long time ago. This is what happens two or three times a year that we find a water pipe coming up out of the ground. You have to get over 8 inches,” Preston said.
On other matters, the council heard Brian Warner, Southern Carolina’s project manager. He said the county had other meetings with an industrial prospect called Project Skyfall.
Warner said another project, Project Beam, could add 75 jobs and a $20 million capital investment. It is also considering the CrossRhodes specification building and visited the website.
Project Echo, another industrial project that could bring 75 jobs, also visited the CrossRhodes specification building.
Warner said the Rural Infrastructure Authority grant for the sewer upgrade near Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing is nearing completion.
In other stores, advice:
• Passed a resolution honoring the late Hallman E. Sease, an 81-year-old businessman, farmer, civic leader, coach and community icon who died April 28 at the age of 81.
• Passed a resolution recognizing the success of the Bamberg Dixie Youth All-Star Team and appointed them District Ambassadors.
• Presents a resolution to James W. Bowman Sr. designating June 1, 2022 as James W. Bowden Sr. Day and recognizing Bowden as the county ambassador.
A member of the Denmark Tech Area Commission, Bowden graduated from Denmark Tech in 1972 and worked at Duke Energy for 42 years. He was Duke’s first African-American vice president before retiring in 2010.
Contact the author: [email protected] or 803-533-5534. Follow Good News with Gleaton on Twitter at @DionneTandD