Edition: 11-27-2013
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Hearing on annexation of Spring Branch Road property

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

Bamberg City Council held a public hearing at the start of their November 11, meeting to receive comments from the public concerning the annexation of property (a little over an acre) off Spring Branch Road in which no comments were made. The petition for annexation into the city of Bamberg made by a group of citizens will now move forward to a first and or second reading at next month’s meeting.

It was noted during the public hearing that back in September a group of citizens that live on Spring Branch Road petitioned to be annexed into the city (primarily for garbage service.) The citizens meet one of the criteria for annexation under the 75-75 rule which means that 75% of the people that own 75% of the property have petitioned the city for annexation.

Also at Monday night’s meeting it was noted that the city’s Workman Comprehension Insurance premium will increase by $22,000 this year. For the last five or six years the city has done “very well” in keeping its workman’s comp down and last year it was about $28,000, but because of a few incidents that number has changed. “It only takes one case,” city clerk/treasurer Bruce Watson said, adding employees have got to understand the importance of working safely.

Fire Chief Timmie Taylor reported the fire department has been seeing a lot more kitchen fires because of people leaving pots and pans unattended on the stove. “It doesn’t take but a little,” Taylor said in encouraging citizens to “be more aware” of leaving pot and pans unattended on the stove.

Under old business council members re-visited a previous discussion of grant writing for the City of Bamberg. From a previous discussion held on granting writing it was noted council members in sending out Request for Proposals (RFPs) wanted to open the process up to other grant writers in specific areas that will be reviewed by city council members before hand. Council member Kathy Schwarting noted council members needed to know what the needs of the city are and “prioritize” their search with the skills of the grant writers.

Council member Janeth Walker stated she would like to see a committee formed to study the matter of grant writing for the city.

In other matters to come before council at Monday night’s meeting, council members will decide if they would like to sell 28 acres of city-owned property (in whole or in part) back to the family it once belonged to.

The property is said to be the site of an old landfill. Council members expressed their desire that the city not be held liable for any human contamination that might be incurred as result of the sale of the property.

Operation Christmas Child

Mallory D. Biering, Staff Reporter

“It was a simple idea that became the worldwide outreach of Operation Christmas Child -- a project of Samaritan's Purse - - to minister to children in war torn and famine-stricken countries. In just two decades it has inspired everyday people to provide more than 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children in 130 countries.” This year 2013, marks the third year Trinity United Methodist Church has played host to a drop off site for the Operation Christmas Child, started by Franklin Graham. The church has participated in the Operation Christmas Child project for many years, but only recently became more involved in the project.

Operation Christmas Child is just another way that many churches in and around Bamberg County minister, “to a lost and hurting world. Every day, boys and girls worldwide suffer from war, poverty, disease, and natural disasters. Operation Christmas Child makes it possible for millions of these children to experience God's love through shoe boxes filled with gifts by caring individuals, families, churches and other groups.”

At Trinity UMC, Joanne Calder and Beaula Hand are in charge of the drop off site for the project. Since 2011, more churches and organizations have participated. According to Hand, 171 boxes were brought to the location in 2011 and 367 boxes in 2012. This year 368 boxes came from 11 different sites. Churches and organizations that utilized the drop off site included: Open Door Baptist Church, Andrew Jackson Academy, Trinity UMC, First Baptist of Bamberg, Siloam United Methodist Church of Barnwell, Pleasant Hill of Ehrhardt, Zion Pentecostal of Ehrhardt, Calvary Baptist Church in Neeses, Norway Baptist Church, Colston Branch Baptist Church, and Ghents Branch Baptist Church. Each of these churches brought boxes to be shipped all over the world.

“The most interesting thing was when children came with their boxes and unloaded them. They were so excited. The children were give a sticker that said, 'I did a shoe box.' It was just fun to watch,” shared Hand, and continued to say, “There is a lot of work that goes into this beforehand. Ordering supplies, advertising, meetings.” Both Hand and Calder agreed Operation Christmas Child is the, “most rewarding experience. It makes you feel really good.”

The ladies explained anyone can participate in the project including churches, schools, businesses and even individuals. Through this project, both ladies have seen how it touches the children to give to others. This project gives them the opportunity to see not all lives are like their own.

If your church, business or other organization wants to participate, Trinity UMC welcomes you to do so.

Explosion of angry employees at BSD1 Board Meeting

Mallory D. Biering, Staff Reporter

"How many times have you come into this meeting and changed the agenda that night," asked Chris Wallace, Bamberg School District One Board Member to BSD1 Board Chair Rita Sease, in reference to not letting him speak as he was supposed to at the Tuesday, November 19th meeting.

"We have never done that. We never changed the agenda," replied Sease. As the meeting continued, Sease, along with other BSD1 board members, Kedra Rivers and Tony Duncan continued voting against motions made by John Hiers to stop the bi-monthly pay or to change the bi-monthly pay start date from February to July. Hiers provided information in forms of signed petitions from teachers stating that they did not want bimonthly pay, as well as presented information about the accounting periods and the best times to make changes in the accounting periods. Despite the information presented the three board members came together pushing Hiers votes out each time.

After each motion, teachers called out to the board members, but only received responses from Sease that sounded like, "You are not to be that open verbally. You're supposed to sit there and listen. We provide time on our agenda for visitors comments, and it's not that time yet."

Wallace spoke with BSD1 Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting about being on the agenda on the previous Friday, but the agenda was already written.

According to legal advice given by the lawyer present for the meeting, Wallace could have spoken on the topic when Hiers made his motions, however he was unaware of being able to do so. The school's lawyers let the board know a motion could be made to continue the discussion, but when the motion was made, a second was never called, therefore Rivers made a substitute motion to end the bimonthly pay conversation indefinitely.

In the heat of the meeting, Wallace stood up and looked down at Sease and boomed, "This thing has been going on since September of 2011. Two years and I want two minutes. You can't give me two minutes?" Wallace turned away and pointed at Rivers and Duncan when he asked, "Puppet one, puppet two, you can't give me two minutes?"

Kevin Sandifer, a Bamberg community member and a parent of an RCES student was on the agenda to speak, but he was only given two minutes to speak.

During his time on the agenda, he asked Sease about topics discussed pertaining to the bi-monthly pay, which were discussed at previous meetings, but Sease was unable to answer the questions, or even fully explain to Sandifer the amount of money coming out of employees’ pay, or other key points to the bimonthly pay change.

Teachers called out questions to Sease like, "Who are you working for? What does indefinitely mean? Why can't y'all say why you're not supporting it? Why are you supporting it?"

Sease asked where the resource officer was, and continued to tell the crowd of teachers and other district employees that they were out of order.

"I see that we have no one signed up for visitor's comments," started Sease, but was interrupted by individuals wanting to sign up to be on the list to speak. Sease let the audience know it was policy to sign up before the meeting. Many in the audience asked how they were supposed to know that if the policy wasn't posted for them to read.

"We will not be here tomorrow. Y'all can find subs," said one teacher, which Sease responded with, "Good."

Despite not being on the agenda, Alzena Robinson, a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was given an opportunity to speak in the middle of Schwarting's report to the board to present a check for $100 for The Leader in Me project. The meeting was stopped to allow time for photos to be taken of Robinson and other members of BSD1.

BPW Commissioners approve new contract with Santee Cooper

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

Bamberg Board of Public Works Commissioners approved a new 20-year power supply contract with Santee Cooper at their November 7, monthly meeting that will allow the local utility company to remain a “viable and sustainable entity” well into the future. “The main thing is the BPW as an entity remains viable and sustainable,” BPW General Manager Will Martin told Commissioners of the new deal with Santee Cooper.

Martin noted that the new 20-year agreement replaces the existing contract that expired on September 20, 2011, leaving the BPW in what was termed an “evergreen period.” It was noted the new contract with Santee Cooper (that has been the BPW power supplier since 1977) included some important points including:

Taking care of the BPW’s long-term power supply for 20-years, the agreement allowed for the BPW to opt out after a certain period if certain conditions aren’t met, the new contract allows for the future growth of the City of Bamberg should a “good size industry” move in and the deal “strengthens the existing relationship” with Santee Cooper and allows the BPW access to a number of Santee Cooper’s services.

Also during Thursday’s meeting in the financial report it was reported the company’s finances were “a little ahead of last year” with revenues down on utilities due to the mild weather. The BPW made $141,000 during the month with revenues ahead of expenses compared to last year this time.

In response to indications of PCBs being discharged illegally in the upstate and midlands of South Carolina , the BPW had its waste water tested and all results came back “good” for no PCB contamination.

BPW Commissioners gave approval to an Adopt A Highway Program suggested by Commissioner Craig Walker that would cover a two mile stretch of highway 301 North of Bamberg and be done on a Friday four times per year, with signage provided by SCDOT. Walker noted he saw the program as an “opportunity to give back to the community” and assisting with economic development.

Commissioners agreed to revisit until a later date a recommendation by Commissioner Walker to put in place suggestion boxes in certain locations around the city until the boxes are designed.

Red Raiders end Bishop England two year state championship reign

Jerry E. Halmon, Sports Editor

The Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School Red Raiders turnaround season continued Friday night as they would travel to Daniel Island and come away with a 27-20 victory over two-time defending Class AA Division II State Champion Bishop England Fighting Bishops, which fell to (9-3) on the season . The win by the Red Raiders, who improved to (7-5) on the season setup a rematch of a regular season game with Region 5-AA Champion Silver Bluff Bulldogs in Petticoat Junction.

Bishop England took a 7-0 lead at 6:35 of the first period on a touchdown pass culminating a 65-yard drive. The Red Raiders would tie the score at 7-7 when seniors Sumner Cooler and K.C. Crosby would connect on a nine yard pass, with 4:55 left in the first quarter, followed by a PAT by Matt Maxwell. On their next possession the Red Raiders moved the ball to the Bishop England three, but was unable to punch it in for a score.

Following a pass interception, the Bishops would score on a 60-yard run at 8:36 of the second quarter making the score 14-7 Bishop England. On the Red Raiders next possession Raquan Brown’s three yard touchdown run and a Maxwell PAT made the score 14-14 at halftime.

The win by the Red Raiders was a complete team effort offensively and defensively as well the offensive and defensive lines. The Red Raider offensive controlled most of the third quarter and with 5:12 left in the third, Coolers touchdown pass to Garrett Zeigler gave the Red Raiders a 21-14 lead they wouldn’t give up.

The Bishops would cut the Red Raiders lead to 21-20 with 9:18 left in the game, but a missed PAT by the Bishops would prove to be their margin of defeat. Tyrell Wilson’s 15 yard run with 5:38 left gave the Red Raiders a 27-20 cushion and the win. Bishop England threatened to tie the game again, but the much improved Red Raider defense bowed their necks and came up with a big stop to preserve the win.

AJA Teams open season with wins

Mike Hall, Contributing Writer

Andrew Jackson Academy kicked off the 2013-14 basketball season by traveling to Statesboro, Ga. to take on Trinity Christian Academy. The fans were treated to four great basketball games as the Confederates pulled off the sweep.

In JV Girls action, Emmy Hall and Jordan Barnes each scored 10 points in a 24-17 AJA victory. Turner Fickling and Hannah Martin each added 2 points while Carey Herndon had a team high 11 rebounds. Hall added 4 assists and 5 steals while Barnes had 3 steals.

The AJA JV Boys hung on for a hard fought 27-25 win. Brayden Franklin led the way with 8 points and 11 rebounds. Joseph Stanfield and Dylan Causey each added 6 points. Hayden Scharber pulled down a team high 13 rebounds.

The Varsity Lady Confederates pulled out a 32-31 win on a buzzer beater by Gayle Mathias. AJA trailed by one point with 13 seconds remaining. The inbounds pass was deflected into the backcourt. Gabby Sease ran down the ball then passed to Cassidy Hall who dribbled to half court and launched a pass to Mathias waiting by the basket. Mathias turned and banked it in as the buzzer sounded and AJA escaped with the win. Hall finished with 11 points, 9 steals, 3 blocks, 3 assists, and 5 rebounds. Caitlin McCallister added 9 points. Sease and Mathias each had 4 points and 8 and 5 rebounds, respectively.

The AJA Varsity Boys capped off an exciting night with a 43-41 win. Aaron Cleland led the way with 10 points, 18 rebounds, and 8 blocks. Michael Mathias had a team high 11 points. Zach Boltin added 7 points and Aaron Wright finished with 10 rebounds.