David Purtell - Staff Writer

Blackville faces shortfall

The Town of Blackville is facing a budget shortfall and has to find areas to save money for the rest of the fiscal year.
At a morning workshop, Saturday, Feb. 16, Town Administrator Ian Kaiser said Blackville has collected $75,000 less in property tax revenue than it had at this point last fiscal year.
Blackville's fiscal year ends in June, and the town is at risk financially of not making it to the end, Kaiser said.
The first plan the town is working on to save money is adjusting the payroll structure for police officers.

City of Barnwell working on water projects

Water infrastructure projects were the major topic of discussion during Barnwell's regular council meeting, Feb. 4.
Council members W.C. Black and J.T. Atkinson, who make up council's water and sewer committee, presented a review of the city's Main Street water tank located by Lemon Park. The review, conducted by a certified inspector, lays out necessary improvements that need to be made to the exterior and interior coatings of the tank.

Curtis Drive brush fire results in fine

Charges have been handed out regarding a Jan. 30 brush fire on Curtis Drive that nearly destroyed multiple homes.
Plexico Williams, of Curtis Drive, has been issued a ticket for "allowing fire to spread to another's land," according to Scott Hawkins with the S.C. Forestry Commission. The ticket carries a fine of $475.
Hawkins said Williams had been conducting controlled burns on his property since Jan. 21 and had notified the Forestry Commission daily.

Local programs celebrate black history

With February being Black History Month, churches and groups throughout the county will have programs to remember, celebrate and educate people about the history of African-Americans.
On Sunday, Feb. 10, New Home Missionary Baptist Church and Macedonia Baptist Church held their programs.
At New Home, in the Red Oak community, Pastor Harris Barker talked about the work the NAACP has done for more than 100 years to help not only black people but all those who suffer "injustice."

Hospital sale gets first nod

Barnwell County Council met Thursday, Jan. 31, for a special-called meeting at the Barnwell County Economic Development Commission office.
During the meeting, council had the first reading of an ordinance similar to one passed last year. The ordinance states county council will take over the pension fund for Barnwell County Hospital, and it also ratifies the sale of the hospital.
Last year, council passed the same ordinance when it was trying to sell the hospital to Dobbs Equity Partners. But that deal fell through.

Houses damaged during blaze

Several local fire departments worked together to avert disaster after a brush fire got out of hand Jan. 30.
Five local departments responded to a fire on Curtis Drive - between Highways 37 and 278 - around 3 p.m.
The fire began when smoldering debris and woodchips in a burn pit got carried by the wind into a nearby crop field. The fire quickly spread across the field toward houses and a wooded area near 1540 Curtis Drive.

Third pedestrian struck in Walmart parking lot

Another pedestrian was hit by a car in front of Walmart Friday, Feb. 1.
Around 3:30 in the afternoon, 71-year-old Charles Lloyd Banks hit Fletcher W. Tyler, also 71, with his van in the crosswalk in front of the store, according to the police report.
The report says Tyler had scraped knees and was taken to Barnwell County Hospital for treatment.
Banks told police he was turning and didn't see Tyler.

Blackville votes to get bill changes flowing

Blackville Town Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to change how the town's water bills are collected during its regular meeting Jan. 21.
The proposed changes would mean people who do not pay their bill in full each month will have their water cut off.
The ordinance says the entire balance for each customer must be paid by the 21st day (must be a business day) of each month. If it is not paid by then, a 12 percent penalty will be levied.

No cleanup planned for contamination

Radiation levels in some of the test wells at Barnwell's nuclear waste site have been increasing, but regulators say there are no plans for a clean up.
The State newspaper reported in December about a meeting of the Governor's Nuclear Advisory Council during which Susan Jenkins, with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, shared data showing some of the test sites had water with unsafe levels of radioactive material. The material, tritium, comes from leaking burial pits at the site.

Barnwell getting new fire truck

Barnwell is in the process of buying a new fire engine.
Fire Chief Tony Dicks submitted bid results to city council during its regular meeting Jan. 7. Based on recommendations from Dicks, council decided to purchase an engine from Spartan Fire & Emergency Apparatus during a special-called meeting Jan. 16.
The total cost is $359,210, but if the city pays the cost in full up front, which it plans to do, the builder will drop the price by about $10,000.

Residents not allowed to talk in open session

Katina Brown arrived at the Jan. 14 regular Williston Town Council meeting expecting to speak to council and the public about concerns she had regarding a December incident involving her son and the Williston police.
Brown was told in writing by Williston Town Administrator Chris Carter she could discuss her concerns "freely" during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Haley: Let’s work together for progress

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley gave her annual State of the State address to the General Assemby Jan. 16.
Haley covered multiple topics, including jobs, taxes, infrastructure and the Department of Revenue hacking incident. She offered plenty of ideas but lacked specific details.
She asked lawmakers to work together in order to accomplish goals.
Haley took jabs at the federal government calling the expiration of the payroll tax "holiday," a tax hike, and said she's against the state opting into Medicaid expansion under the new health care law.

City of Barnwell adopts FOIA policy

Barnwell City Council adopted a Freedom of Information Act policy during its regular meeting Monday, Jan. 7.
The city has not had a policy before and is adopting one to help streamline the process of answering requests for public information, City Administrator John Zawacki said.
Zawacki said the city has been handling cases on an individual basis, asking city attorney Tom Boulware for assistance when needed.

Relay kick-off celebrated

Relay for Life in Barnwell County had its kick-off celebration Thursday, Jan. 10, at the SouthernCarolina Alliance Business Center.
The event served as a welcome for members, new and old, and an information session for anyone interested in joining the organization, which raises money for cancer research and is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
This year's event will be April 26 at Veterans Park in Barnwell.
Teresa Sanders is heading up the event in the county and talked about the great opportunity Relay for Life offers.

Barnwell County back in severe drought

Barnwell County and other parts of South Carolina are back in severe drought status.
The state's Drought Response Committee met Dec. 11 and upgraded the drought status for every county by one level, according to a DNR press release.
Barnwell, Aiken and 10 other counties were labeled severe. All of those counties were in the western part of the state, several along the Savannah River all the way up to Oconee County.

Former Hawk wins football Grey Cup

A former Blackville-Hilda High School football standout is a champion in the Canadian Football League.
Brandon Isaac, who graduated from Blackville-Hilda High in 2003 and played at the University of South Carolina, plays linebacker for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.
The team won the league's 100th Grey Cup Nov. 25, defeating the Calgary Stampeders 35-22.

Photo IDs now available for local voters

It's 2013 and that means a new voter identification law is in effect in South Carolina.
When voters go to the polls, they will be asked to show a photo ID. The Legislature passed a law in 2011 requiring photo ID at the polls, but it was blocked by the federal government. A watered-down version of the law was upheld in a federal court last year. That court case cost the state $3.5 million, according to the attorney general's office.

S.C. Tissue: We don’t need the money

South Georgia Tissue says it no longer needs state funds to help build a plant in Barnwell, according to a statement from the company.
But when construction will actually begin is still a question.
The company had a Dec. 15 deadline to begin work at the site or a $770,000 grant from the state would become null and void. But the company said in the statement, which was received Jan. 2 after The People-Sentinel sent an email with specific questions about the project, that it no longer needed the grant money.

Legislators lay out plans for new year

The state Legislature begins its 2013 session this week, and there is plenty on the table to deal with.
A workshop was held Thursday, Jan. 3, for members of the media to ask questions and get legislators' thoughts on the big issues facing them this year.
A big topic of discussion was the state budget, which will be hammered out in the coming days. Also on the table was the status of the hacking that occurred at the state Department of Revenue last year.

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