In This Weeks Edition: 11-11-2009

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Bamberg County Council receives
update on courthouse renovations

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Writer

Bamberg County Council members received a structural analysis of the Bamberg County Courthouse at their November 2 meeting. Dinos Liollio and Mary Mac McFadden of the Liollio Architectural Firm and Bill Ussery a professional engineer informed council members that they were not asking council to make any decision on the facility at this time, just their reaction.

The representatives of the James Island based firm said they looked at three basic components as a part of the preliminary overview which included; county administrative functions, judicial and law enforcement. They noted that they were tasked with two things and they were; what does the county occupy today and what are the current 2009 needs.

It was reported that the county government currently occupies 18,000 square feet of space while currently serving a population of approximately 16,000 people. Based on the current population the county governmental functions need the space of 34,000 to 35,000 square feet. The report stated that the county is missing facilities that include a training room, conference rooms and support facilities for security.

Bamberg County Administrator Rose Dobson- Elliott noted that; “this is so we all won’t go off in left field, this is a very preliminary report. We’re trying to look at effectiveness and efficiency, but we’re also trying to bear in mind the cost. We just do not have enough space that’s usable for court facilities; you have to incorporate more than one building. They don’t all have to be big but you do have to have more than one.

In response to the question of what would happen to the present courtroom after renovations are made Councilmember Chris Wilson noted that “there will always be a need for a second or third courtroom,” citing times when civil, family and criminal court each meet at the same time.

Bill Ussery a professional structural engineer reported that the courthouse building itself is in “good condition” structurally with the exception to sediment and “a few things in the attic.” Ussery said he checked the entire building and it does have cracks in the walls in different places outside and inside the attic. The fault he said is the cracks in the 1960 part of the building that was added on to the original building. “Primarily the foundation settlement is the issue with the building.” Ussery recommended that the county monitor the cracks and get a geotechnical engineer to find “what’s going on and come up with a solution to stop it.”

Mary Mac McFadden prepared a series of overlays of the courthouse and the surrounding area. “Let the courthouse be what it is meant to be, a focal point in the city,” McFadden said showing photos of where the courthouse had been moved from its original location across Main Highway to where it is today. “It needs to be efficient and relate-how can we bring these elements together, the goal is creating space in the moment when the courthouse was in its old location.”

Also during the meeting:

•Bamberg County Hospital Interim CEO Roy Vinson reported for September that patient volume was up over August just under 13 patients per day. Surgery volume was down about 15 percent from August 299 to 253. He stated that net revenues were down from August to $62,000 and expenses were down $119,000 under August. Net income was $36,000 on the positive side for September and as it relates to the last 12 months ending September 30th revenues were a positive $468,000. Overall compared to the prior 12 months which showed a negative $1.4 million, hospital finances showed improvements of $1.9 million.
•Bamberg County Administrator Rose Dobson- Elliott reported that the Hampton County Rotary Club with matched contributions from Bamberg County citizens was able to give pencils and dictionaries to all third graders in Bamberg County. Students at Andrew Jackson Academy received 9, Denmark- Olar Elementary received 68 and Richard Carroll Primary School received 119 dictionaries and pencils. “It’s one of the best feel good programs you can do, we had real good regional funding, this is my community give back project for this semester,” Dobson-Elliott said.

Shoppers Get Early Start

Joyce M. Searson, Publisher

The City of Bamberg came alive Saturday with a lot of the local businesses having open house and grand openings. The atmosphere was very festive and it felt great to see people stirring, shopping locally and getting an early start on their Christmas list.

“We need to support one another and shop locally,” said Janeth Walker, owner of ‘BeJeweled by Janeth,’ one of the vendors at the Curiosity Corner in Bamberg. “We need to stay positive and don’t give up. Things are going to get better and Bamberg is really a great town with lots of good things happening.”

Ehrhardt Election Results

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Writer

The official results of the town of Ehrhardt Municipal Election held November 3 showed that incumbent Mayor William C. “Bill” Stanley was reelected for a fourth time as Mayor. Stanley was declared the winner after he defeated Frank Ogle by a vote of 124 to 52. In the race for two seats on Ehrhardt Town Council incumbent Freddie Copeland was reelected with a total of 116 votes, with newcomer BennieK. Hughes receiving 117 votes. Ehrhardt businessman Preston Davis received 52 votes.

In an interview Wednesday morning, Mayor Stanley thanked the people for electing him to office for another term.

“I’m just humble and grateful for the opportunity the people gave me to serve again,” Stanley said. “I will certainly do the best job I can and obviously my priority is getting the water system under construction for the people of this town.”

Steward Publishes Book

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Writer

Denmark native Annette Steward recently achieved her life’s goal by writing and publishing her first book. The title of the book is “The Blues of a Woman, a collection of poems.”

Steward started writing when she was 12-years old said that writing is something that she does that releases stress and allows her to get in touch with her creative side. “I’ve always wanted to write a book. It was a little later than I had planned but it has happened,” she said.

Community Development

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Writer

The Southern Carolina Regional Community Development Corporation (CDC) held an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, November 7 at the site of the newly built Dogwood Townhouses on Voorhees Road in Denmark.

“This is a good day in Denmark,” Mayor Gerald Wright said. Adding, “as I listen to Mr. Owens make his remarks I was thinking if we move across town there is a great deal of evidence that things are shrinking, are dwindling and we don’t like to see that trend. This is an excellent example to remind us that there is still life in Denmark and the quality of life is going to improve as a result of the work the (SCRCDC) is doing and has done in the past. We want to commend them for their work and encourage and ask for your support where ever there is work the (CDC) is doing.”

Denmark Donates Land

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Writer

The City of Denmark recently donated a parcel of land adjacent to the Denmark Fire Station on Carolina Highway to the Aiken-Bamberg-Barnwell-Edgefield (ABBE) Regional Library System. The property will serve as the site of the new Denmark Library when the facility is built.

Denmark Mayor Gerald Wright said the city was happy to play a part in the construction of the new facility. He said, “This is a significant point in time when we finally anticipate movement on funds that were secured by Representative Bakari Sellers for construction of a facility in Denmark to serve as a library.