In This Weeks Edition: 02-03-2010

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County prepares for disaster...

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

A mock earthquake response exercise by the Bamberg County Emergency Preparedness Office was held at the J. Carl Kearse Building on Calhoun Street in Bamberg on Friday. The purpose of the exercise was to recruit volunteers to manage a volunteer reception center in wake of an imaginary 6.0 earthquake that shook through the City of Denmark.

A news release developed for the mock exercise stated that Bamberg County Emergency Preparedness Office has opened a Volunteer Reception Center and a Public Service Announcement has been issued asking local citizens to volunteer in disaster relief.

The United Way of Bamberg, Colleton, and Hampton Counties urged citizens to provide service to their community through volunteering in wake of the mock disaster. “If you are able to lend your service, you’re asked to come to the J. Carl Kearse Building located at 847 Calhoun Street in Bamberg,” stated the news release. Specific positions that are being requested are those who are nurses and medical professionals.

In the wake of the earthquake that recently struck Haiti and considering the fact that Bamberg County is located relatively close to an earthquake fault near Charleston, Bamberg County Emergency Preparedness Director Sharon Hammond said it is imperative that agencies in the county work together as a team to prepare in case a disaster strikes the area.

“This is a team effort, we cannot do this by ourselves,” Hammond said. “We need the partners of the United Way of Bamberg, Colleton, and Hampton Counties and the American Red Cross. Together we get this accomplished. We can’t do this by ourselves, none of us can.”

“That’s why we have our partners working here with us. We can go help each other in these various counties,” said Hammond, adding, “the same activity will be done in Colleton County next month.”

“Volunteers are priceless, aiding disaster victims is our purpose,” Janette Moyer, Executive Director of the United Way of Bamberg, Colleton, and Hampton Counties said. "We're real excited about this and to be working together as a team and to have all the volunteers here today. Through our Public Information Officer we will be putting out request for more volunteers,” Moyer added.

Finance Committee recommends building permit increase

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

With two matters on their agenda at a special call meeting Monday night January 25, the Bamberg County Council Finance Committee voted first to recommend to County Council second reading of an ordinance to increase fees on building permits of more than $1,000 by five dollars to finance the purchase of a permitting software program, at their next regular council meeting on February 1.

Bill Johnson, County Building Inspector noted that the QS1 permitting software program that cost approximately $3,000 per year saved the county time and money. He stated that permits that previously had to be written by hand are now done on computer saving time, money, and fuel. “It gives me more time out in the field doing inspections,” Johnson said. He added, “I used to spend two days doing reports to send to Columbia, now I can do a report in ten minutes.”

In the other matter coming before the Finance Committee, members of the committee voted 3-1 to take $1,500 or no more $3,000 out of the county contingency funds to increase the County Chair’s travel budget to attend the National Association of Counties NACo Conference in Washington D.C. And, stated that they would discuss the matter more at their retreat.

“I won’t vote to take it out of contingency,” Councilmember Wilson said. “If it came out of contingency it could only be done for one year, a onetime deal, I think we need to live within our budget,” Wilson said.

Councilmember Chris Wilson voted against taking the money out of contingency funds, while Council Chairwoman Alzena Robinson, Isaiah Odom, and William H. Nimmons voted in favor.

In an earlier vote on the matter of attending the NACo Conference, Council members voted down a motion to increase the chair’s travel budget by $1,500 by reducing each county council member’s travel budget by $250 correspondingly, resulting in no increase in expenditures. Councilmember Chris Wilson voted in favor of the motion, while Chairwoman Alzena Robinson, Council members Isaiah Odom and William H. Nimmons voted against.

“Will there be sufficient funds left in my budget?” Councilmember Odom asked.

Councilmember Wilson stated that he didn’t think it was legal for a member of County Council to transfer all of his or her funds to another member. “You must change it for everybody, with a stated reason,” Wilson said.

County Finance Committee members also agreed to look at health insurance supplements for 25 year employees and the county’s bereavement policy.

Fire Department Honors

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

The Denmark Fire Department sponsored a blood drive on Friday January 29th at the fire station on Carolina Avenue in Denmark in memory of Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Gibson. The Shepard Community Blood Center of Augusta Georgia was in charge of the blood drive.

Robert Wayne Gibson died Saturday January 16, 2010 at the Augusta Burn Center as a result of injuries he received from a propane explosion on January 9, 2010 near Summerville. Gibson was the Assistant Chief of the Denmark Fire Department where he served as a volunteer firefighter for 31 years.

Clary Honored

Jerry E. Halmon, Staff Reporter

Bob Clary was honored in January as an Ambassador for Economic Development by the Department of Commerce and legislative leaders as part of South Carolina’s 19th Annual Industry Appreciation Week. The ceremony took place in Columbia on Tuesday, January 26 at the Statehouse and highlighted 48 individuals from 46 counties for their exceptional efforts to bolster community and economic development activities in South Carolina.

“While improving our South Carolina’s business climate and developing a skilled workforce have been priorities for our administration, these efforts alone are not enough. The help and efforts of community and business leaders in every corner of the state are critically important and today we say thank to these ambassadors for economic development for their efforts to create jobs and economic opportunity in South Carolina,” said Gov. Mark Sanford.

Hannibal Graduates

Teresa Hannibal, City Councilwoman, has completed the Riley Institute at Furman’s award winning Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI) Lowcountry program. Selection to the DLI program is competitive and based on a nomination and application process. Hannibal joins over 600 South Carolina leaders who have graduated from the DLI program.

Blue Moon

Jerry Durgan, Contributing Writer

The evening of the last day of 2009 was also an event that hasn’t happened for nearly 20 years, a “Blue Moon.” Unfortunately, because of a cloudy sky, the unusual Blue Moon was not visible in the Bamberg sky.

The term "blue moon" simply refers to the second full moon in a calendar month, but is something that hasn't happened on a New Year's Eve for nearly 20 years, NASA says.

Most months have just one full moon, because the 29.5-day cycle of the moon matches up pretty well with the length of calendar months. Occasionally, there will be two full moons in a month, something that happens about every 2˝ years, according to NASA.

Bamberg County Schools

Bamberg County school districts will receive a total of $154,098 in federal stimulus funds from the South Carolina Budget and Control Board’s State Energy Office to make energy efficiency improvements.

Bamberg County School District 1 was awarded $71,859 to install occupancy sensors and make upgrades to lighting fixtures at Richard Carroll Primary School , Richard Carroll Elementary School , Bamberg-Ehrhardt Middle School and Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School . Upgrades to heating and air conditioning systems at the high school will also be made.

Bamberg County School District 2 was awarded $82,239 to install an energy management system at Denmark-Olar High School . The system will help the school better control the temperature of the heating and air conditioning systems at the school.

“Bamberg County schools will be able to see significant energy cost savings as they use this stimulus money to make energy efficiency improvements county-wide,” said John Clark, director of the South Carolina Energy Office. “The taxpayers of Bamberg County will save over $45,000 in utility bill costs annually.”