Its a nuisance to the community
Written by Jerry E. Halmon   

Dogs barking and crying all day and night at the city’s dog pound, weeds growing up around the city’s maintenance shed and the periodic sound of gun fire at the City of Bamberg- owned shooting range are three issues Spring Branch Road resident Linda Hibbler came before Bamberg City Council seeking some relief for Monday night.

“It’s a nuisance to the community,” Hibbler said of the sound of gun fire Spring Branch Road residents say they can hear coming from the City of Bamberg’s Police shooting range and the “barking and crying” of dogs all day and night. “The shooting is loud and makes too much noise. There are sick people out there and the city should find a place outside the neighborhood to set up a rifle range. Bamberg is a big county and surely the city can find someplace else to set up a shooting range instead of in our community,” Hibbler added.

Bamberg Police Chief George Morris noted that City of Bamberg police officers use the 25-year old shooting range that is owned by the City of Bamberg, but is located in the county approximately 12 times per year in order to be recertified twice per year. And in order to do that, two different groups have to be taken out there by a licensed instructor.

Chief Morris noted the Spring Branch Road facility is the only property the city owns that far outside of the city limits that can be used for that purpose and if that property weren’t used, the city would have to buy property in the county and build another shooting range. Morris said he agreed shooting practice shouldn’t have been allowed on Sunday’s and holidays. Now officers are only allowed to use the facility during business hours. "We try to keep it as quite as possible,” Chief Morris said.

In relations to Hibbler’s comments about the city’s maintenance shed that she noted was grown over with weeds, Public Buildings Commissioner Kathy Schwarting noted there were a number of areas in the city that are being looked at to clean up and make more presentable.

In other matters to come before Council Monday night: In the finance report it was noted the city’s budget is running at about 16 or 17 %. “We’re fine where you are. Right where we need to be at this time of the year,” Clerk/Treasurer Bruce Watson noted. Police commissioner Robin Chavis reported an ad for a new police officer was in the paper and had generated several responses with interviews to start in a few weeks.

Fire Chief Timmie Taylor reported the fire department responded to a total of 19 calls during the month. Sanitation commissioner Kevin Sandifer reported two employees completed animal control training. Clerk Watson noted in Licensing commissioner Beth Bowers report business licenses were “coming in good at this time” with a few lagging behind.

Public Buildings and Economic Development Commissioner Kathy Schwarting reported that with the Capital Sales Tax money in, the city would be able to do some work on the Civic Center. City officials are waiting to meet with the architect to see what the city can afford to do in “prioritizing” the repairs with the roof being a top priority. Schwarting also reported the city’s economic development committee met with representatives from the Urban Land Institute that has been working with the city for the last two or three years and had a “real good meeting.” She noted the group is putting together “a limited plan” to help reinvigorate the downtown area of the City of Bamberg.

Also during the meeting council members gave second and final reading to Ordinance 13-3 adding Section 14-92 regulating derelict mobile homes in the city. Council members approved Resolution 2013-06 authorizing an Intergovernmental Agreement between the City of Bamberg and Bamberg County giving Mayor Blain Crosby the authority to sign agreements that would transfer $1.3 million in FEMA Funds from the City of Bamberg to Bamberg County for work on the courthouse and law enforcement complex.

Council members also heard request from four residents of Spring Branch Road to start the process of being annexed into the city of Bamberg.

In the public comments portion of the meeting Cathy Griffin, who works with MAMAS noted the group had one earlier meeting with the City of Bamberg and one meeting since and, “in our eyes no progress is being made,” in giving the matter of a dog ordinance the attention it needs. Griffin noted the County of Bamberg makes a donation to MAMAS and perhaps it might be possible if the City of Bamberg could do the same. Mayor Crosby said the city is moving forward in the matter. Sanitation Commissioner Kevin Sandifer noted that there was no need for a meeting until an ordinance is complete.

“We’re moving forward,” Sandifer said adding, “I’m free to all suggestions, it’s being worked on.” Janis Steedley, also a volunteer with MAMAS wanted to know the type of training the animal control officers received and what city ordinances were City of Bamberg officials looking at. It was noted the animal control officers must be certified in euthanasia every four years. The officers did not receive training in tracking and capturing dogs at this time.

The City of Bamberg is looking at the dog ordinances of several cities and the State of South Carolina.