Highway 78 widening project a reality

The long awaited Highway 78 widening project between Bamberg and Denmark may finally become a reality.

Bamberg County Council District One Councilman Chris Wilson, reported at council's Monday night meeting that the (LSCOG) transportation committee will meet at 10 a.m. on May 11 in the Bamberg County Library and a groundbreaking ceremony for the long- anticipated Highway 78 widening project will be held immediately after the meeting.

Wilson said there will not be four lanes widening between Bamberg and Denmark, but there will be a widening of five lanes out past the Denmark Technical College turnoff. The highway will then narrow to two lanes with six-foot shoulders all the way to Bamberg, with some different areas for truck pull-offs and will also provide for bike shoulders.

$3.5 million dollars has been earmarked through Rep. Jim Clyburn’s office for the initial phase of the project and It is anticipated that additional funds will be earmarked in the near future to complete the entire project.

In other business:

• Council members gave first reading approval in title only to a proposed ordinance to adopt a budget of $ 7,552,350 million dollars for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2010 and ending June 30, 2010.

• Council members gave approval to a proposed resolution creating a commission to select capital improvement projects to be funded by a proposed local one penny sales tax. County Administrator Rose Dobson- Elliott said working with current data, the penny sales tax would bring in approximately $419,000 the first year and $559,000 the second year. May 5 would be the deadline for the appointment of commission members by municipality and also for council members to appoint three members to the commission. Bamberg County Hospital Principal Administrator Carl Menist reported that the hospital had a “good month” in February with a profit of $325,000. Year-to-date the hospital has shown a profit of $412,000.Menist noted the profit is due in large part to the management of expenses and “substantial bad debt recovery” of $350,000 to $400,000 for the month of February. Cash collections in February were $2.15 million. Menist said the Swing Bed unit has shown improvement starting in March with just under five patients per day and the last 15 days has averaged 6 to 7 patients per day.

• The following roads were added to the county maintenance list under the condition that the property owners provide an easement to the county by July 1, 2010 or they will be removed from the list: Grassy Road, Shad Road, Zig Zag Road and Rose Bud Road.

• Council members heard a report from Bamberg County Litter Control Board Chairman Ted Robertson who reported that the litter board sponsored a Poster Contest in the schools in the county this year and received over 600 entries. The board also donated supplies to 21 people for the Great American Cleanup Day on Saturday March 27th.

• Heard a report from Chuck Milliken of the Mary Ann Morris Animal Shelter (MAMAS) who stated that the agency has placed over 100 animals and spayed or neutered 100 others. The agency is requesting a budget of $30,000 this year, which is an increase of $5,000 from last year. Milliken noted that the bulk of the shelter’s money comes from donations and the county’s contribution is “quite small.”

• Council members heard a report from County Finance Director Thomas Thomas who stated that the county has collected year-to-date 75 percent of its estimated budgeted revenue after the first eight months of the fiscal year in the amount of $5,669,327. Total expenditures stood at $5,546,488.

• Council members recognized the following new Bamberg County employees: Sarah G. Noel, Clerk/Typist, Probate Court; Christina Dennis-Ness Clerk/Typist, Delinquent Tax Office; Dianne F. Mock, Clerk/Typist; Treasurer Office, who were present at the meeting. And the following new employees who were absent: Stacy Frank, Community Coordinator, E-911 Services; Bamberg County Detention Center Officers: Aishah F. Williams, Demetrius Whetstone, Lynetta Breland and Laverne L. Murray.