In This Weeks Edition: 09-29-2010

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Bamberg Red Cross board enrolls two new members

Jerry Durgan, Contributing Writer

By unanimous vote from the Bamberg Chapter of the Red Cross board, Charity Sandifer and Lynn Martin became new members of the board last week at the board’s quarterly meeting. Charity is the daughter-in-law of Paul Sandifer, a long-time board member of the Red Cross, and Lynn has been an active and vibrant volunteer of the Red Cross.

During the meeting, Genie Bellamy reported that Red Cross received three calls for assistance to military families, Paul Sandifer reported that there was one family assisted in July following a home fire and 104 individuals were trained in CPR/First Aid during the quarter. “The Cheeze and Cracker Box is in need of food and monetary donations,” reported Sandifer.

The Cheeze and Cracker Box is a long-established charity organization that has provided every sort of item to those in need in Bamberg County, from household goods to food and clothing for many years. “Enid Bishop, the director of the Cheeze and Cracker Box, has been a fundamental and outstanding help to the Red Cross for many years,” said Bamberg Red Cross Executive Director Harvey Kling. “She and the Cheeze and Cracker Box has saved us many, many dollars over the years in the Red Cross’ efforts and has helped hundred of families and individuals over the years.”

The Bamberg Chapter of the Red Cross welcomed the new Aiken County Chapter of the Red Cross Executive Director Lindsey Findlay. Several months ago the Bamberg Chapter became an affiliate of the Aiken Chapter, “a win-win affiliation,” said Harvey Kling, Executive Director of the Bamberg Chapter. “By becoming a part of the Aiken Chapter we’re able to combine resources in case of a major disaster of either or both counties.”

Since Sept. 7, Ms. Findley has been the Executive Director of the Aiken chapter. A graduate of Aiken High Schools and the College of Charleston. She earned her undergraduate degree in political science and a masters degree in public administration. For the last few years she worked in Columbia with the SC Senate Finance Committee and the State Budget and Control Office. “During the last year,” she explained, “I traveled with my husband for a while. This gave me the luxury to decide what it was that I really wanted to do and working with a nonprofit organization really seemed to fit the bill for me. When the directorship for the Aiken Red Cross became available I jumped at the chance. This was something that I could really relate to and something that everyone relates to.”

The Bamberg chapter has met quarterly for several years at the Bamberg Job Corps Center with luncheons provided by the students and instructor of the Culinary Arts class, “something that is so deeply appreciated,” said Kling. “The warmth and service and the excellence of the meals that the Center has provided for us over the years has truly been outstanding.”

City of Denmark records 15% census rate increase

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

“A significant improvement, we’re really excited,” is the way Ms. Terry Seabrook an official with the 2010 Census described the reaction of state officials to the preliminary numbers coming out of the 2010 Census. Seabrook made her presentation to Denmark City Council members at their September meeting Monday night. She said she was “happy to report” that South Carolina didn’t fare well in 2000, but in 2010 the state went from 49th to 23rd in the country in its rate of participation. In fact, she noted South Carolina was one of only two states (the other North Carolina) that exceeded an eight percent increase.

Seabrook thanked City of Denmark Administrator Heyward Robinson, city of Denmark “Right Count” Committee Chair and Denmark City Councilmember Jake Bookard and Denmark City Council for their cooperation with Paul Shepperd on the census. The city of Denmark participation rate increased from51 percent in 2000 to 66 percent in 2010. She noted the final census numbers will be “rolled out” the middle of next year. Seabrook said in the next 12- 24 months citizens should start to see the effects of the census along with redistricting. It was stated that it was not clear at this point if the annexation of Voorhees College and Denmark Technical College would be included in the 2010 count.

Also during the meeting:

• City Finance Director Rusty Munoz reported the city’s revenue and expenses are “where they were expected to be” with no problems in the foreseeable future. He noted that the two new wells are in place and the community block grant has been complete.

• Police Chief Leroy Grimes reported the department created 65 new case files for the month. Chief Grimes noted that the department has implemented a new program of putting up pictures of people the police department “needs to talk to” that have not paid fines by a certain time. The chief said a bench warrant will be issued for the person’s arrest and their name will be placed in the NCIC computer. “The program has been successful, it works,” Chief Grimes said.

• Denmark Fire Chief Charles Breland reported the D.F.D. had a relatively “slow month” with 1 grass fire, 3 EMS assisted calls, 3 false alarms. The fire chief noted that 14 members of the department attended a recent training session, 17 attended a business meeting. The department has a total of 31 members and an average of 8 members respond per call.

• Administrator Heyward Robinson reported for the public works department the two new wells are in place, five leaks were repaired and three new hydrants in place. He reported the public works department received a “good review” from DHEC on the new valves and the department’s record keeping. Robinson noted the department was trying to get hydrants and valves on the city map. Council member Hope Long-Weldon said up-grading the city’s water system was a “continuous process” she commended the city and its leadership team for “moving in a forward direction.”

• Council members approved the hiring of Barnwell-based C. O’Berry Painting at a cost of $6,500 to paint the Dane Theatre. It was noted that C. O’Berry Painting was licensed and bonded and submitted the “lowest responsible” bit.

In the public comments portion of the meeting:

• Denmark resident Vic Whetstone wanted to know when garbage was scheduled to be picked up. Whetstone said there is trash “all over town” and some had not been picked up in months with leaves and limbs not picked up in two months. “Somebody is not doing the job,” Whetstone said. Mayor Gerald Wright said that the city has asked that trash be bagged or boxed and limbs cut to a certain size.

Summers Sworn In

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

Newly elected Bamberg City Council District 2 Councilwoman Cynthia Summers was sworn into office before a room full of well wishers at Bamberg City Hall on her birthday Wednesday September 22.

Summers was declared the winner of a Special Election on September 14 to fill the vacant District 2 seat on Bamberg City Council. Summers defeated political veteran Francis Johnson (88 to 36 to claim the seat). “I feel truly blessed; I’m truly excited to work for my community, I just thank everyone,” Summers said.

Bamberg One

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

Bamberg School District One officials took a step closer to the reality of building a new elementary school and making significant renovations to the existing middle school and high school Monday night, approving the recommendations of the district’s selection committee for architectural and engineering contracts for the Bamberg School District One Building Program.

Bamberg School District One Assistant Superintendent Robbie Kearse informed board members that after conducting interviews with six different architectural firms, the committee decided on the top two firms, who presented prototypes of schools they had built previously. The committee visited two schools (Pine Grove Elementary School in Columbia and Mary Wood Elementary School in Greenwood.) “We were very impressed by the school in Greenwood,” Kearse said.

Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting stated that the next step after the architect comes on board is to go through some of the same process in selecting a construction company. Schwarting noted that over the 17 years allotted to pay back the $20 million interest free loan for the new elementary school, the bonds issued will accumulate approximately $5 million in interest, thus requiring that tax payers only pay back $15 million instead of the original $20 million borrowed.