David Purtell - Staff Writer

Purtell sets out on new assignment

Editor's Note: This is the first blog post from Purtell on his Appalachian Trail journey. Follow his posts at www.purtellscorner.blogspot.com.

It's late on Saturday, April 26, 2014. It'll be Sunday by the time I post this. I'm sitting on the floor in a nearly empty living room in my townhouse in Barnwell, South Carolina. The room is mostly empty, like the rest of the house, because in less than 48 hours I won't be living here anymore -- I'll be somewhere in northern Georgia hiking north on the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail.

Lenten series concludes with message of compassion

The congregation at Bethlehem Baptist Church heard a message of compassion during the final service of the Barnwell County Ministerial Association's Lenten series.
Rev. Obed Ortiz, of Sunny Vista Church of God in North, guided listeners through Luke 15:11, a story about a man whose son leaves home but quickly wastes his wealth and decides to go back home. His father does shun him for his sinful ways, but instead shows compassion and celebrates the return of his son.
Ortiz said the message is that even though the son did not deserve it, his father showed compassion.

Williston considers tax projects

Williston Town Council was presented with a list of projects for the proposed countywide capital-sales tax during its regular meeting April 14.
The tax has to be approved by voters in November and would last for seven years - when a vote whether to continue it would be necessary. County Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. estimates yearly revenue from the tax would be $1 million -- which would be split among the county and its seven municipalities.
Williston's list has six projects totaling $1.04 million:
Renovation of Town Hall -- $750,000

Water, renovation projects make city's list

Barnwell City Council approved its list of projects for the proposed capital-project sales tax during the regular meeting April 7.

The tax would have to be approved by voters in November and would last for seven years. County Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. has said the estimated yearly revenue from the tax is $1 million -- which would be split among the county its seven municipalities.

The city's list contains 7 items with a total cost of $1.5 million. The projects are:

Pax cleanup cost in the millions

The total cleanup cost from Winter Storm Pax for county maintained roads in Barnwell County will be more than $2 million.

The estimated total cost is $2.7 million, Simon Carlyle, with Leidos, the company monitoring the debris cleanup, said during the April 8 regular county council meeting. The county could end up being on the hook for 20 percent of the cost, $555,000, if the state doesn't pick up the tab. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is paying for 80 percent of the cleanup cost.

Run for animals

People can come out and support the county's animal shelter this weekend during the Susie Rosier Character of Fitness 5K Run and Walk.
Now in its eighth year, Saturday's event at Veterans Memorial Park will raise money for the shelter's spay and neuter program. The shelter provides the procedures for pets at no cost or low cost for qualifying pet owners. Last year's event raised $9,000.
The race begins at 8 a.m.

Road causing headaches for residents

Update: During the regular county council meeting April 8, Councilman Lowell Jowers brought up the issue of Myrtle Drive. He said he'd been out there, and the road is in terrible condition. Council discussed the problem of the road being a private drive, but the county will look into what can be done with the road. 

Myrtle Drive is a road in Barnwell County, but calling it a road is being very generous.

County needs trust, working relationships

"Lack of trust."
That's what was written on the chart during the community meeting March 31 at Williston Town Hall, but those in attendance said it's time to come together for the future of Barnwell County.
The countywide town-hall meeting put on by Barnwell County Council was a starting point for building trust and relationships among the communities and government bodies of the county.

Police searching for suspects after robbery

Police are looking for suspects after a robbery at a business Wednesday morning in Barnwell.

Police Chief Reuben Black said three men robbed the Local Finance office (in the plaza across from Mr. B's restaurant) at 10:25 a.m. At least one of the suspects had a hand gun. Money was stolen, but the exact amount isn't clear yet. No one was injured.

Fire guts mobile home

A fire in an abandoned house kept firefighters busy in the early morning hours of March 26.
Shortly after 2 a.m., firefighters arrived at 37 Vintage Drive - just off Hwy. 37 south of Williston Way - and began battling the blaze. The crews were hampered a little because the house is about 50 yards off of the road and the property is surrounded by a fence with a narrow opening. Only one truck could go through the opening at a time, so crews had to rotate the trucks in and out.

Same employees, new name in EMS

Medshore Ambulance Service took over for Williston Rescue Squad at midnight Monday.
Medshore hired all the WRS employees who wanted to continue working in the county, Greg Shore, the company's CEO, said.
He said the transition should go smoothly and residents in the county shouldn't notice any change in service except for the name on the side of the ambulance.
WRS had to close because of financial struggles.

Trust building

Residents and officials from around the county came together Monday night in Williston to show they're willing to work together to move Barnwell County in the right direction.
In what is hoped to be the first of many town-hall meetings across the county, Barnwell County Council heard from officials, business leaders, and community members during the two-hour meeting at Williston Town Hall.

Residents can express opinions, ideas at town hall meeting

Residents and officials of Barnwell County are encouraged to attend a town-hall meeting next week to discuss ways to move the county forward.
County council has set a meeting at Williston Town Hall March 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The meeting will focus on how to bring economic development to the county. The proposed 1 percent capital-projects sales tax - which would need a vote of approval from residents in November - will also be a topic.

Blackville signs on for task force

Blackville Town Council agreed to join the intergovernmental agreement to fund a gang and drug task force in the county during its regular meeting March 17.
The town had been holding out on signing the agreement until the sheriff's office provided more information about how the money will be used. Blackville will have to pay around $24,000 toward the task force -- $10 per resident living in the town.
The task force will be funded by the county as well as all of the municipalities. Its budget for the first year includes four officers and totals over $300,000.

Filing ends Sunday for offices

The filing period for local and statewide elections ends this weekend.
There are three county-council seats up for grabs this year: districts 2, 4 and 6. District 2 covers the Blackville area and incumbent David Kenner has said he plans to run for re-election. District 4, located in parts of Barnwell and Snelling, is currently held by Lowell Jowers, who has filed for re-election. District 6 covers the area south of Barnwell around the Red Oak community. Harold Buckmon is the current representative and has filed for re-election.

Horsehead employees receive lifesaving training

Safety is a top priority at any industrial site, and having employees who can respond to an emergency is crucial.
The situation is no different at the Horsehead Corporation site in Snelling. And the company, which produces zinc products from recycled materials, recently had six employees complete training and earn certification as Emergency Medical Responders.
All of the site's employees receive training in safety as part of the day-to-day job, but the six who earned EMR certification went above and beyond, Eric Stroom, the plant manager, said.

County sets deadline for mayors

Update: The meeting is set for Monday, March 24, at 6 p.m. The agenda for the meeting says council will go into closed session to discuss the EDC situation. 


Original story:

Barnwell County Council had a lengthy, and at times heated, discussion about the ongoing situation with the county economic development commission during its meeting March 11.

City’s audit ‘clean,’ no more Third Thursday

Barnwell City Council heard the annual auditor's report on the city's finances during the regular meeting March 3.
The city received a "clean opinion" from McGregor and Company LLP, the firm that conducted the audit. A clean opinion means there were no major errors or issues found. The audit covered the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2013.

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