Edition: 08-28-2013
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Spring Branch Road home destroyed by fire

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

A pot left cooking on a stove by accident is believed to be the cause of a fire Monday night that left a Spring Branch Road home gutted by fire. Tuesday morning as he and his children sifted through the ashes of his burned out home, trying to salvage what was left, Samuel Richburg 77, of 2542 Spring Branch Road recalled the events of Monday evening that led to him losing his home.

Richburg said his friend was hungry and he started to prepare some pork chops on the stove and mistakenly left the pan cooking on the stove and went into town. He said when he remembered what he had done he hurried back home but it was too late, as he found his home totally engulfed in flames. Richburg noted that he had just got the house looking like he had wanted it before the fire. “At 77 it’s going to be hard starting all over he said.”

Officials with the fire service stated the call to respond to the Spring Branch Road fire came in at 9:47pm Monday night. Volunteer fire fighter Jonathan Winningham and engineer Steve Barton were credited for “doing a fantastic job in knocking the fire down quickly in no time at all.”

Tough Week Zero

Overall it was a tough 2013 Week Zero opening for area football teams Friday night. Along with the Bamberg-Ehrhardt Red Raiders (0-1) dropping a 34-7 decision to Orangeburg-Wilkinson, the Denmark-Olar Vikings (0-1) fell to Hunter Kinard Tyler by a score of 34-12. Denmark-Olar’s Travis Smalls 2-yard run for a touchdown with eight minutes left in the third quarter and K. C. Butler’s 88-yard kickoff return with 5:51 left in the game were bright spots for the Vikings, who committed a number of costly turnovers in the loss.

The Jefferson Davis Academy Raiders (0-1) got the 2013 season off in Week Zero to a rocky start with a 46-0 loss to W. W. King Academy. The Andrew Jackson Academy Confederates were idle during Week Zero.

Cheez & Cracker Box

Mallory D. Biering, Staff Reporter

Tuesday, August 20th, the Cheez and Cracker Box had nothing to offer those families coming to them for help. Enid Bishop, operator of the organization knew she had to do something, which was when the team decided to spend $800 on groceries. Along with those supplies, and some other donations given by a local church they were able open their doors again. However, as of press time on Tuesday, August 27th, the shelves were bare once again.

Bishop says she is desperate for help, as they are in need of food quickly. As always, they will take donations of any kind-- food or monetary.

Donations can be brought to Bishop's home or the Cheez and Cracker Box.

According to Bishop, they have helped 44 families in the past month. Some of those families have as many as 8 children, and she needs the community to know she can't spend all of the money on food, otherwise they will have to close their doors. "I'm desperate," she said during an interview.

For information on how to help Bishop and her team serve those in Bamberg County, stop by the Cheez & Cracker Box or call (803) 245-2507 or (803) 245-2545.

Bruins snap losing streak to Red Raiders

Jerry E. Halmon, Sports Reporter

Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School head varsity football coach Kevin “Butch” Crosby knew that his team would be “green” in some areas coming into this football season. On Friday night, in Week Zero of the 2013 high school football season, his young Red Raider team (0-1) got their come-up-pence against a more experienced Orangeburg- Wilkinson team in Orangeburg Friday night, falling to the Bruins by a score of 34-7 in a non-region contest.

“We got some growing pains to go through,” Crosby said after the Bruins snapped a three- game losing streak to the smaller classification Red Raiders. While acknowledging that youth is a factor on this year’s team, he was not using youth as an excuse for his team’s performance. “Being young is no excuse. We’ve been young before but we grew up. Right now we just got to grow up. We’re not growing up fast enough for me.”

The Bruins (1-0) would take the opening kickoff and proceed to drive the ball down the field culminating in their first touchdown at 5:20 of the first quarter. The Bruins would score on a touchdown pass at 4:40 of the second quarter making the score 14-0 after a successful two point conversion. The Bruins extend their lead to 21-0 at 2:37 of the second quarter on a 19-yard run.

After the break, the Red Raiders would come on the field with momentum to get back in the contest but a turnover at the 11:19 mark of the third would put the Bruins back in business at their own 47. At the 1:00 mark of the third a 32-yard touchdown pass made the score 28-0 O. W.

One thing Coach Crosby said he took away from the game that he didn’t like and hadn’t seen in his tenure as head coach at B-E since the 2001-02 season was his team being “manhandled” up front on both sides of the ball. “I don’t know who is coaching their O-line and D-line, but they just manhandled us up front on both sides of the ball and that’s something we’re not use to.”

Garrett Zeigler’s touchdown pass to Tav Schwarting at the 7:16 mark of the fourth quarter followed by a Matt Maxwell PAT made the score 28-7 O-W, averting a shutout for the Red Raiders. The Bruins final score came with 3:14 remaining in the fourth quarter making the final score 34-7 O. W.

Coach Crosby noted that his team is going through “a lot of adversity” with kids playing out of position and other things but he stated “you have to make adjustments” in situations like this.

“This is what makes you a man, what makes you a football team. As coaches we just got to go back to the grinding board. Go back to what we do. Go back to the basics and see where the chips fall and we’ll be fine.”

BSD1 waiting for Bamberg County Family Community Leaders

Mallory D. Biering, Staff Reporter

Evelyn Jones, Representative of the Bamberg County Family Leaders along with other members of the organization, have been in contact with Bamberg School District One in retaining the now unused Richard Carroll Primary School.

The organization plans to utilize the school for various activities sponsored throughout the year. However, Phyllis Schwarting, Superintendent of Bamberg School District said at the last BSD1 Board Meeting, "I just want you to be very, very sure that this is in fact what you all want. It is a tremendous undertaking. I'm not trying to talk you out of it, I just want you to be sure of the magnitude of what you are preparing to take on."

Schwarting explained the organization will have to pay something for the school, such as $1, just so both sides would be within the law.

In order for the organization to get the building there are only two restrictions they must follow, which Schwarting outlined in the meeting. "If the property is ever to be used to operate a private primary or secondary school, for pupils who are eligible to enroll in the district, then the district may reenter and retake the property. In other words you can never use it for a private school or charter school. If the property is conveyed as is, with all faults, no recourse shall be had against the board or the district on account of the conditions or any improvements in the property."

Insurance was also a topic Schwarting brought forward to Jones. "The insurance you will have to have on the building could be of a significant amount. The maintenance, the grounds keeping, there is some mold and mildew in the building. I don't think there is any, or not nearly as much in the gym. But I do want you to go into this totally aware of the expenses that may be incurred. I don't know if you have gotten an estimate on an insurance premium for the building, or if you have any idea how you're going to maintain the premises." Schwarting suggested that Jones meet with her organization, and make a decision as to what they would like to do.

As of press time on Tuesday, August 27th, BSD1 had received no answer as to whether or not Bamberg County Family Community Leaders would be taking the primary school.

Bamberg could be receiving 40 multi-family housing units

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

Residents of the city of Bamberg could be receiving some badly needed (nongovernmental subsidized) medium income housing if things work out as planned. In an update on a proposed housing development by Seaborn Greene on Race Street in the city of Bamberg at council’s August 12, 2013 meeting, City of Bamberg Clerk/Treasurer Bruce Watson noted that the information he had received about the housing development was “not official yet” but it sounded like the development was “a done deal” with more information forth coming about a possible groundbreaking.

At the November 12, 2012 Bamberg City Council meeting a Charleston-area realtor whose company works with a number of multi-family housing developers across the state, told Bamberg City Council members that the city of Bamberg has been identified as an area that can support 40-45 multi-family housing units, (a five million dollar investment in the community) contingent on the city being able to target five to seven acres of land in the city within a 72-hour time frame by November 15, 2012 where the development could be built.

“It’s a very quick trigger on this, very fast,” Commercial Real-estate Agent Edward Oswald of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina -based Oswald Cooke and Associates told Council members of the 72-hour time frame needed to identify the property the multifamily housing units would be built on, adding “but it could happen, I’m here to ask ya’ll help us by identifying some areas in Bamberg that could be suitable for revitalization.”

Oswald said the developers were not looking for the City of Bamberg to donate any land for the project and the developers would come in and buy the property. He also noted the application through the Low Income Tax Credit Program is a “competitive program.” Of the 80 applications submitted to the program last year Oswald noted that he and his partner were involved in 12 applications, with a total of 15 being funded.

“When you boil it all down, we have a pretty good track record of getting applications selected state wide,” he stated. City of Bamberg Clerk/Treasurer Bruce Watson noted that bringing in more multi-family housing was a goal that the City of Bamberg had set for a while.

“When Council approved the last Comprehensive Plan, it basically said we need some more multifamily housing in the City of Bamberg, it was something they kind of targeted,” Watson noted.

Water well back online

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

After several years of expensive repairs and testing required by DHEC (Department of Health and Environmental Control) a town of Ehrhardt water well is back online and supplying a fresh flow of water to the town.

“We’ve been dealing with this for four or five years,” Ehrhardt Mayor William “Bill” Stanley told council members of the problems the town has been experiencing with Well #3 at their regular August 20, meeting. The well has been back online two or three weeks Mayor Stanley noted, adding “we’ve got a good water system and water supply it’s been a long ordeal.”

Also during Tuesday night’s meeting in the public comments portion of the meeting, it was noted that two residents of Ehrhardt were interested in knowing if the old caboose could be moved to the old depot with the interest of converting it into a museum. The questions came up as to who owned the caboose and would the town own it if it were moved?

It was stated that the Heritage Corridor owns the caboose that was brought through a grant and the town has no control over it. It was also noted that the citizens said they would make sure the caboose (which was noted has been “an eye sore for a long time” would be kept up. Council members agreed that the first thing to do is find out what can be done and get back with the citizens.

In the department of public safety report Chief Chad Dilling reported no fire calls for the month. However it was a totally different situation in the police department with the department “having a busy couple of months” creating a total of 18-case files that included the following cases: DUS, ID theft, DUI, disorderly conduct, wreck less driving etc… Chief Dilling reported that this year’s Schuetzenfest Festival “went over good, with not many problems.” He said he wanted to thank the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and the Bamberg County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance.

PRT commissioner Bennie Hughes noted the town’s sanitation crew “did a good job” in getting the town’s streets clean early Sunday morning after the festival. Public works commissioner Freddie Copeland reported collections for July at $13,862 and for August to-date at $10,040.39.It was noted that 17 or 18 citizens had their water cutoff for non-payment.

It was noted that a town’s resident was still having problems with drainage in his yard. It was stated that Bobby Crider of the SCDOT was advised of the problem. It was commented that the citizens’ daughter will speak with Crider again before going to Orangeburg for help. Mayor Stanley stated that the SCDOT needed to be thanked for working under a “difficult situation” and they “did a good job” under the circumstances.

It was also stated in the meeting that the town’s audit should be in by next month. Under New Business: It was reported that the town and the county have put in for a matching grant for a new sidewalk. It was reported the One Cents Capital Sales tax money is available now for the town’s beautification project. It was noted the town asked for $65,000 for the project that would be reimbursed when the work is done. Town administrator Kathie Stroman reported that the grant for the new police car is still under review. Council members approved a resolution from the Lower Savannah Council of Governments (LSCOG) for working with HUD to make grants available to towns to identify dilapidated housing.

Council members asked County Council members Clint Carter and Trent Kinard, who were at the meeting, what they thought of the town’s chances of getting help from the county to tear down dilapidated building and dispose of the material. County Council member Clint Carter said the town needed to “ask soon because of all that’s going on.” The County Council members noted that an abatement of the buildings may need to be done, which would cost the town some money and County Building Inspector Bill Johnson needed to be notified first.