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In This Weeks Edition: 12-02-2009 Print E-mail

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FROG Park ...‘a dream that is now a reality’

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for a new children’s park located on Cricket and Brook Drive in Bamberg Monday morning.

Bamberg City Council District Three Councilmember Janet Walker, coordinator for the project, gave thanks to all those people who enabled the park to become a reality.

Walker thanked Representative Bakari Sellers for fully supporting the project and providing the funds through a Parks and Recreation Development Fund (PARD) Grant. She thanked Bamberg Mayor Alton McCollum, Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Foster and all Bamberg City Councilmember's for their continued support. Richard Kemp and Gene Schwarting, III donated the land for the city to build the park and the Board of Public Works and Manager Bruce Ellis, City Employee Johnny Thomas and the City of Bamberg Sanitation Department were instrumental in building and beautifying FROG Park.

Walker also gave thanks to all District Three constituents and others, who had a vision and wanted to see something more for the children. She added, “without the determination, support and prayers of all of you, this project would not have been possible.”

Walker said the push for the park came about in 2007 shortly after she was elected to city council when one of her constituents Sylvia Ann Downing approached her with the idea of having a park for the children of that community.

Downing’s parting comments and question was boldly asked Walker said. “Congratulations on winning the seat…now let me see what you can really do. Is it possible that we can get a park built for this community?” My response was “let me see if I can turn your possibility into a reality.”

Walker said she solicited ideas from Downing, other members of the community, District Three, Mayor McCollum and Bamberg City Council members who were “fully supportive without opposition.” She then met with Rep. Bakari Sellers, who was “excited about the idea” to discuss funding and a possible location for the park.

Richard Kemp and Gene Schwarting III were identified as possible sources for land for the park. The two men said that they had a piece of property on Cricket and Brook Drive that they could possibly donate to the city but only under one condition. The condition being the land is used for something for the kids.

“With the blessings of everyone involved, the possibility of FROG Park is now a reality. But most importantly I give thanks to God,” said Walker.

Hiers, Grand Marshal

Pansy Clayton, Ehrhardt Correspondent

Monroe Hiers is the Grand Marshall of the Schuetzenfest Lighted Christmas Parade being held in Ehrhardt at 5:30 pm on December 7th.

Hiers was born in Ehrhardt to Barney W. Hiers and Ruth Bishop Hiers. After graduating from Ehrhardt High School, he received his A. B. Degree from Wofford College and Juris Doctor Degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Stolen Vehicle Recovered

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Writer

A vehicle, that was reported stolen in Orangeburg County on Wednesday, was found submerged in the Edisto River at Bobcat Landing North of Bamberg off Highway 301 near the Bamberg and Orangeburg County line Thursday morning. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources officials and rescue personnel worked approximately two hours to retrieve the submerged late model Ford Explorer SUV that had drifted over 200 feet down the river from the strong currents in the water. According to Bamberg County Sheriff Ed Darnell, the Ford Explorer was probably placed in the river Wednesday night. No one was found in the vehicle.

Sellers, Grand Marshal

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Writer

South Carolina House of Representatives District 90 Rep. Bakari Sellers; a Denmark native, will serve as the Grand Marshal for the both the City of Bamberg Christmas Parade at 10:00 a.m. and the City of Denmark Christmas Parade at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, December 5.

Rep. Sellers is the son Dr. Cleveland and Gwendolyn Sellers of Denmark. He graduated from Morehouse College in 2005 with B.A. Degree and the University of South Carolina Law School J.D. in 2008.

Denmark Water

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

The work on two City of Denmark wells is moving along on schedule Fred Martin, engineer with the Orangeburg based Engineering Resources Corporation, told Denmark City Council members at their November 16 meeting.

“The report is good,” Martin said. “We’re moving along on schedule. The Acadia Well could go online as early as spring of next year and the second well (West Voorhees Road) a month or two following that.”

The bulk of the funding for the Denmark Water System Improvement Project was secured through an $860,000 Rural Development Community Block Grant. The City has also applied for a $30,000 Planning Grant through Rural Development which would enable them to do engineering studies, planning, identify some of its needs and develop a business plan. City officials are also in the process of applying to the S.C. Budget and Control Board for a $ 6 million loan for needed infrastructure improvements.

Food Distribution

Jerry Durgan, Contributing Writer

The United Way of Bamberg County, along with Golden Harvest Food Bank of Aiken, distributed food on Saturday, November 14, 2009 to 342 registered individuals in the county. A total of 974 individuals in those households benefited from the food. The households received a total of 14 different items of food. The food consisted of can fruit and vegetables, frozen meat, pizza rolls cheese slices, milk, flavored water, marinade, white hominy, fresh apples and potatoes. Forty-one volunteers distributed 10,000 pounds of food in the county.

County Finance Committee

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

Bamberg County Council Finance Committee members voted unanimously to increase funding by $29,000 for the solicitor’s office for the remainder of the Fiscal Year 2009- 2010 in a committee meeting held on November 24. It was noted before the final voted was taken that for several years under a three county agreement with Aiken, Barnwell and Bamberg that Bamberg County was expected to pay $75,000 or $76,000 per year for the services of the solicitor.

“The current solicitor (Strom Thurmond Jr.) is doing a good job of moving cases off the books and saving the county money,” Finance Committee member Chris Wilson said, in arguing for the increased funding. “They’re putting more effort and resources in this county," Wilson added.

Council Finance Committee members, acting on a request from the Bamberg County Hospital Board to Bamberg County Council for use and expenditure of funds, approved money for the Swing Bed Unit, (which was noted as revenue producing), $47,000 for the purchase of a chiller and a $200,000 revolving line of credit with payment terms. It was agreed that the administration of the hospital would put together a physician’s recruitment package to be approved by council.

District One confirms date for referendum

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Report

Bamberg School District One Board of Trustees selected March 16, 2010 as the date voters in the district will decide if the district will be allowed to borrow up to $20 million in Qualified School Construction Bonds and $9 million in Bill America Bonds.

District One Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting told board members at their November 19 meeting that after consultation with the Columbia based McNair Law Firm it was decided that March was the best time to have the referendum and Tuesday would be the best day.

Schwarting said the administration had considered hiring a public relations firm, but since was informed that the School Administrators Association has a person on board to help districts with referendums at a savings to the district.

The Superintendent noted that she would like each board member to have a core committee of two or three people to support the referendum in place by December 1, noting that this would save the district money, as the district could not use its funds for public relations purposes.

“There is quite a bit you can do and some things that you cannot do, it is a vote and decision the people will make and we can live with that,” Schwarting told the board members.

District One Trustees voted unanimously at their October 26 school board meeting to approve a resolution for a $29 million bond referendum. Before the final vote was taken Superintendent Schwarting said that she saw this opportunity as one that only comes along once in a lifetime; “In my opinion it’s a chance of a lifetime. I don’t think this opportunity will ever come again in any of our lifetimes, where we will get interest free money, as much as I respect everyone on the board, I’m not sure that five people should make a decision for the community,” Schwarting said.

Bamberg School District One was one of only four districts in the state to be approved for the $20 million in interest-free Qualified School Construction Bonds. Coupled with the $9 million in Bill America Bonds which has part of its interest paid back, the district is looking to save $15 million over the life of the loan.

Schwarting also noted that because the construction industry is so depressed at this time, the district would probably receive 30 percent more school than if the economy was better.

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