Political News

Bridge replacement and overdose prevention discussed at council meeting


The Clarendon County Council met for their regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Monday, Aug. 14. After the approval of the agenda and July minutes, Linda Lemon presented service awards. Brandon Baxley received a certificate for serving ten years as lieutenant and company officer with the fire department. Terri Ridgeway was presented a certificate and pin for serving ten years as an executive assistant with the administrative department.

Vickie Williams and Judge Amy Land then presented a proclamation having Aug. 31 deemed Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day. Williams explained that the state of South Carolina received a settlement fund in the SC opioid litigation proceedings. With the funds that came to Clarendon County an Opioid Recovery Team was formed. The team is made up of people from Clarendon County Behavioral Health Center, Clarendon County EMS and Fire Rescue, Santee Mental Health, Department of Social Services (DSS), Clarendon County Detention Center and Clarendon County Drug Court. The team has increased the distribution of Narcan and other FDA approved drugs to people who do not have access to them or whose insurance does not cover them. They have provided extensive training to law enforcement, health care providers and legal and court staff along with bringing in a full time interventionist. The team has been able to provide a Narc scanner in the field and at the Clarendon County Detention Center that immediately identifies opioids. Willams stated that in the last eight months the county has had 247 overdoses. Council passed the proclamation unanimously declaring Aug. 31 Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day.

Brad Reynolds Project manager for South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) presented plans to council on the construction of the I-95 Bridge Replacement. There are two large bridges and two smaller structures that will be replaced. The purpose of the project is to maintain connectivity and safety. The need stems from the current bridge having narrow shoulders causing safety issues with no way for travelers to get out of the travel lane and are not up to current state safety standards. Deck repairs are needed as well with continued deterioration  that could in the future lead to load restrictions and long detours if not addressed. The plan is to replace the bridge while maintaining traffic. Remove the existing structure when the new one is complete while maintaining two lanes at all times. There will also be a fourteen foot shared use path for cyclists and pedestrians on the southbound side. The new lanes will be wide enough so that if in the future I-95 is widened to six lanes, it will accommodate. The environmental document is scheduled to be done in the fall of 2023, followed by procurement in early 2024 and awarding of the construction contract in the spring of 2025 with the repair in 2026-2029, tentatively. The cost of the new bridges are approximately $350 million. So far, $3 million has been secured for the project and SCDOT has a plan in place working for a grant for the remaining funding needed. The new structure should last 75 to 100 years.

The chairman for the Clarendon County Cultural Complex Committee Chris Rowland presented council with the committee’s recommendations for Weldon Auditorium. The general considerations were to increase resources such as contracting services, increased staffing, professional consultation for specific projects, and to supplement the allocations resources for appropriated and/or necessary policies and regulations for day to day operations of the complex while keeping tax payers in mind. The group recommended lifting the county alcohol ordinance on the property to expand opportunities for events and income. They recommended forming a permanent commissioned based advisory board to assist with grant opportunities, event soliciting, marketing and volunteers. They’d like to designate a staff person to oversee concessions and interactions with local business people to meet several times a year at council’s discretion and partner with local high schools for internship possibilities, and implement an additional full time position to work with the advisory board and grant writer. There is currently one person in place now. The committee stated one person can not do all of this. There should be a director of operations, repairs, and maintain event records along with a full time commission based events coordinator. They also recommended stage expansion, replacing existing lighting with LED lights, landscaping, and more seating options with larger seats.

Rowland then addressed the committee’s recommendations for Weldon operations. They recommended an annual maintenance contract for upkeep of the building and making sure the renovations are done right and kept to standards. With revenue the committee recommended updating the rental price to current economy standards with more competitive rates. A commission based model for large productions and out of town entertainment was recommended along with updating and exploring concession items and options. It was recommended to avoid free tickets for events hosted or sponsored by Weldon. They also recommended a profit loss sheet be updated monthly. The committee also shared ideas on Food Truck Fridays, comedians, magic shows, conventions, summer series, movies,concerts, and seminars with season passes. It was suggested that local businesses can be more involved by collaborating with Weldon in different ways, such as giving discounts on customers bills if the customers present their ticket stubs at time of purchase.

Funding was next on the list of recommendations. Speaking for the group, Rowland suggested reaching out to state delegates such as Congressman Clyburn, local businesses, and organizations to make requests for additional repairs, programming or advisory.  The committee also recommended hiring a part time production based grants writer for the complex.

The council then addressed a request to approve an intergovernmental agreement between the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, Clarendon County, Orangeburg County and SCDOT regarding public safety response on the Palmetto Trail on highway 301’s pedestrian bridge.  Currently the bridge is shut down to pedestrian traffic. South Carolina appropriated funds to SCDOT to provide work for repair and it is nearing completion. The signed matter would mean that Clarendon County would, along with Orangeburg County, provide emergency responses to the bridge and be responsible for all signage and markers on the Clarendon side. This passed unanimously.

The council then discussed a request to approve a memorandum of agreement between the SC Department of Juvenile Justice and Clarendon County relating to the provision of secure detention services with SCDJJ. The agreement is an annual agreement for juvenile individuals arrested in Clarendon to be housed in SCDJJ, as the current detention center in Clarendon is not equipped to utilize the juveniles. This was passed unanimously.

A third request to approve an intergovernmental agreement between the Town of Summerton and Clarendon County related to the county’s building code officials. Clarendon has the same agreement in place with the City of Manning, when someone goes to the city requesting authorization for building permits, the city approves and then the agreement would come in as the building officials from the country would conduct the inspections. The county receives all the fees from the work. This passed unanimously.

A public hearing was then held on ordinance 2023-04 which is an ordinance to authorize the transfer of real property with improvements, owned by Clarendon County South Carolina as identified as Clarendon County tax map parcel numbers 078-10-03-039-00 and 078-10-03-030-00. Mary Franklin Harvin donated land to the Town of Summerton for a new park which is open to the public. Per an agreement with Summerton, the county constructed the property and facility, the county transfers the property now that the construction is done, and the Town of Summerton will maintain the upkeep moving forward. A consideration for a second reading took place and was passed unanimously. The park will be named in dedication to the late Representative Cathy Harvin.

Public hearing for ordinance 2023-25 an ordinance to amend the official zoning map for tax map parcel numbers 217-00-00-008-00, 216-00-05-048-00 from the performance zone (PZ) to agricultural LL (AGLL). The purpose for this is placement for a motocross track strip located at 1749 Driggers Road. A second reading took place and passed unanimously.

A consideration of first reading of ordinance 2023-06, an ordinance authorizing pursuant to Title 12, chapter 44 of the code of laws of South Carolina 1976, as amended the execution and delivery of a fee-in-lieu of ad valorem taxes agreement by and between Clarendon County South Carolina, and a company identified for the time being as project Hailstorm, acting for itself, one or more current or future affiliates and other project companies (collectively ‘company): providing for a fee-in-lieu of ad valorem taxes incentive; providing for a special source revenue credit; modifying a joint county industrial for a special source revenue credit; modifying a joint county industrial and business park of Clarendon and Suter counties so as to enlarge the park; acknowledging an economic development grant; and other related matters. Project ‘Hailstorm’ will bring around 200 jobs to the county and the company is investing around 30 million dollars with land, building and equipment. The official announcement should come in September.  This passed unanimously and a public hearing will be held at the next council meeting in September.


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