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In This Weeks Edition: 04-04-2012 Print E-mail
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Detention Center officers receive state honors

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

Two long serving Bamberg County Detention Center Officers recently received two prestigious state honors from the South Carolina Jail Administrators Association. Sergeant Lessie Meeks, a 17-year veteran with the detention center was the recipient of the State Correctional Officer of the Year Award and Captain Vickie Raysor, who has been employed with the detention center for nine and a half years, was the recipient of the Runner-Up Supervisor of the Year Award.

“It speaks for the kind of folks we have right here in Bamberg County,” Bamberg County Detention Center Director Joe Glover, who is in his second year as director and who nominated the two officers for the awards, said of his two employees. “They lead by example,” added Glover, who noted the two officers “took him to where he needed to be as director. When you have talent like this, it makes the job easier. Being from here and knowing the folks here, they tend to know the community as well,” Glover commented.

Officer Meeks said that she thanked Director Glover for “thinking about me” and putting my name into nomination for the State Correctional Officer of the year award. Sergeant Meeks is a 1972 graduate of Bamberg- Ehrhardt High School. In 1992 she began her employment at the detention center as a part time employee. In 1993 she graduated from the Criminal Justice Academy. Officer Meeks is a member of Capernaum Baptist Church of Bamberg. She is married to James Meeks of Bamberg and they are parents of two children, James Bernard Meeks, who lives in Missouri and Carnice Michelle Johnson, a graduate of the University of Vermont Law School and a lawyer, who presently lives in North Carolina.

Officer Raysor stated that “what I like most about my job is being able to work with people like Mr. Glover and Mrs. Meeks. I thank Mr. Glover for thinking so highly of me to nominate me for this award,” Raysor said. Officer Raysor is a 1992 graduate of Ruffin High School.

She started working at the detention center in 2002 and graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice in 2003. She was promoted to the rank of Captain in 2011. Officer Raysor is presently pursuing her degree in Criminal Justice at USC Salkehatchie. She is married to Gregory Raysor of Bamberg and they are the parents of two children, Porshe, who is a rising freshman and Gregory a 4th grader at RCES.

As for the value Officer Meeks and Officer Raysor bring to their jobs. “If you don’t have responsible adults it can get pretty rowdy back there,” Director Glover said about working in a jail setting. “We have a very good team here.”

Copeland named 2011 Cooperator of the Year

Jerry Durgan, Contributing Writer

Bamberg County Soil and Water Conservation District Landis Hiers honored Wingard Copeland of Ehrhardt as “2011 Cooperator of the Year” during the March 27 Bamberg Soil & Water Conservation District awards banquet.

“Wingard Copeland has been recognized for many years for his strong conservation efforts” Landis said, “heavily involved on natural resources conservation efforts. He has been an outstanding spokesman for conservation throughout his area.”

Guest speaker DNR Senior Hydrologist Brenda Hockensmith presented an in-depth review of the aquifers of South Carolina, particularly of the Bamberg County system. “I’m particularly interested in drought conditions and how it pertains to the aquifers in South Carolina and how precipitation affects the aquifers,” she explained.

Hockensmith earned her degree in geology from the University of Pittsburg in 1982 and her MS degree in hydrology in 1985. She has held her position with the DNR since 1985.

Using a slide show presentation Hockensmith discussed the five different South Carolina aquifers and how water usage affects each of these.

The Bamberg Soil and Water Conservation District field office staff assists farmers, landowners, and units of government by providing land-use planning, engineering services, agronomy recommendations, soils information, and other technical assistance related to natural resource management, resulting in the completion of conservation practices that benefit cropland, woodland, and wildlife habitat and improving water quality throughout Bamberg and Barnwell counties.

The District also offers a strong education program for all schools in the county. This program includes poster and essay contests, environmental workshops, outdoor classrooms, earth day and soil stewardship programs, and distribution of materials to the students.

BPW to undergo rate study

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

The Bamberg Board of Public Works is putting together information to present to a team to do a study of its rate structure. BPW General Manager Will Martin informed Commissioners at their Thursday, March 29 meeting that on April 11 and 12 a team should be here “on the ground” to study a new rate structure for the beginning of the year.

Also during the meeting:

• It was noted in a review of the company’s financial statements that the utility company was “doing better” this last year. Commissioners heard a report from Manager Martin stating that the company had secured a modular office building and had secured bids on the demolition of an old building. The Manager noted that work was done on Well no. 8 and it was hoped it would be back in service in May. Work is to be done on Well 9 after work on Well 8 is completed. It was noted that repairs to Well 8 would cost approximately $300,000, which was noted was not bad considering the original cost of the Well was $1.4 million in 1995 or 1996. To refurbish one of the agency’s treatment plants was listed at $10,000 to $15,000 when finished. It was reported that two of the agency’s lagoons had sludge in them and bids of $16,500 to $48,000 were obtained to clean one cell, with the agency looking at a bid of $35,000 or less from a Columbia South Carolina-based company.

District looking to ‘get a handle’ on money owed

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

There is “a significant problem” in this district collecting lunch money; Bamberg School District One Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting told trustee board members at their March meeting. In offering an administrative rule to go along with policy that is presently in place, the Superintendent noted that by policy students in middle school and elementary school are allowed to charge up to $10 only for meals.

Now students are charging up to $25 worth of meals and are receiving bills of $100 or $200 in the middle, elementary and primary schools. “This has created a significant cash deficit for the food service,” Schwarting commented, adding “we do have to look at something to help us.”

It was noted that typically from $ 8,000 to $ 10,000 is owed to the food service program (which is supposed to be self sufficient) each year. Profits earned in the food service program go to the district to cover part of the $180,000 it (the food lunch program) owed the district a few years ago, but has “come down some the last few years.”

The Superintendent stated the district needed to look at lowering the amount a student could owe for meals to $10, noting that most people could come up with $10 more so than $25 or $50. Board Chair Rita Sease wanted to know if the same policy would apply to adults as well as students, noting that she did not think adults and students should be treated the same.

Superintendent Schwarting said she will bring back a separate policy to address adult lunches, noting that she did not think any changes in the policy could be implemented until next year.

Also during the meeting:

Trustee Board members agreed to table until their April meeting a recommendation from Superintendent Schwarting to do some painting in various areas and flooring at the high school and a roofing project at the BEMS gym, that were not put in the district renovation projects because of concerns for cost over runs.

The Superintendent said the total cost of the projects would be $104,895. She noted that presently the district has a fund balance of $2.95 million and if all the projects were approved by the board it would leave a fund balance of $2.85 million. The Superintendent stated that there was “possibly money” left in the contingency funds of all three construction projects in the district to cover the cost of the new projects, but there was a “possibility” that there may not be enough funds to cover the project.

Little League baseball field gets new turf in time for season opening

Jerry E. Halmon, Sports Editor

With the Bamberg County Little League Baseball and Softball season starting up on April 14, the teams playing on one of the fields at the Ness Sports Complex will have a brand new infield turf to play on this season, thanks to the generosity of a Bamberg County couple. Travis Still and his wife Ann Still, of Grahams’ Turnout Road, between Denmark and Blackville, recently brought sod from the New Life Turf Company; they cut the grass free, and moved it over with their own equipment and helped other volunteers put the grass out.

“It’s going to look real good, we just need to keep putting fertilizer and water to it,” Buzzy Bunch, who has served as Co-director of the Bamberg County Little League Baseball and Softball Programs with Robert Williams for the last four years said. Bunch noted that presently between 350 and 400 kids have signed up for the program this year that will feature 30 teams along with their coaches.

The new turf on the coaches pitch baseball field will not be the only new addition at the Ness Sports Complex this year. Recently a new batting cage was obtained through a grant from Representative Bakari Sellers and with the assistance of Chris Wilson of Bamberg. The Bamberg Board of Public Works built the cage and put it up for the baseball and softball league that will come in handy for the April 14th Bamberg County Little League Baseball and Softball “Bash” an all day event, which is held at the Ness Sports Complex each year to signal the opening of the season.

Bunch said he wanted to thank all of the sponsors of this year’s teams; and he wanted to thank those persons who volunteered their time in putting the new turf down on the little league infield including: Brad and Sherrie Ethridge, Linsey McDonald, Cliff Harper and Glen Jeffcoat. He also invited everyone to come out to the “Bash” on April 14 noting that there would be “plenty of food and cold drinks.”

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