David Purtell - Staff Writer

Williston to lose leader

Williston's Town Administrator is leaving to take a job in Georgetown.
The coastal city has offered Chris Carter a job as its city administrator, and he said he plans to accept it.
"I've spent most of my career in a town of that size," Carter said. Before Williston, Carter was in Hendersonville, N.C., which is still where he has his home. He said he plans to move to Georgetown once everything is settled.
Carter said he interviewed with the city in early December, and that it looked like a good career move.

Celebrating freedom for 150 years

The annual Emancipation Day celebration was held Jan. 1 at Second Baptist Church of Barnwell.
Community members and leaders came out to remember President Abraham Lincoln's proclamation made 150 years ago during the Civil War. The executive order declared slaves in Confederate states to be "forever free" and was a major step toward the end of slavery in America.
Rev. McKinley Neal led the ceremony, which included music, speeches and Second Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Phillip Thomas delivering a riveting message.

Project stalls

The state deadline for making progress at the S.C. Tissue plant has come and gone and no progress has been seen at the site.
December 15 was set by the state of South Carolina for construction to begin at the proposed site, which sits on land surrounded by the Barnwell County Airport.
The deadline was regarding a $770,000 rural-infrastructure grant the state issued to the company. The grant was supposed to be null and void if reasonable progress had not been made at the site by the deadline.

Blackville prepares to enforce water cutoffs

Blackville is still in the process of changing its water-billing policy.
The town plans to implement a new system in March, and the proposed changes would mean people have to pay their bill in full each month or risk having their water shut off. The town is trying to fix the problem of people "floating" their bills, which causes late fees to pile up and much needed revenue to go uncollected, according to town officials.

Markers tell history of Fuller Park and creek

Local leaders gathered at Fuller Park Dec. 19 to unveil two new historical markers.
The markers describe the history of Fuller Park and Red Hill at Turkey Creek, which runs along the edge of the park. Both markers are adjacent to Dunbarton Boulevard.
Fuller park was constructed in 1933 and included a swimming pool, bathhouse, dance pavilion, tennis court and baseball stadium.
The minor league Albany (N.Y.) Senators held spring training here for several years in the 1930s and 1940s.

Audit shows Williston decreased spending

Williston Town Council heard a report on the town's annual audit during a regular meeting Dec. 10.
Accountants Larry Bokor and Tom Cornelison conducted the audit, which covers the fiscal year that ended June 30.
Overall, they said the town's finances were healthy. Cornelison said this was one of best years he'd seen since he began doing the town's audits.

Williston gets ‘healthy’ audit results

Williston Town Council heard a report on its annual audit at a regular meeting Dec. 10.
The audit covers the town's finances for fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30. Tim Cornelison and Larry Bokor conducted the audit.
Overall, they said the town's finances were in good shape. The town's governmental activities had total current assets of $1.2 million at the end of the year, and its current liabilities were $60,522. Cornelison said the town was "very healthy" financially, and that this was one of the best years he'd seen since he began doing the town's audits.

Report indicates exposure levels dropping

The Savannah River Site released its annual environmental report for fiscal year 2011 in November.
The report gives a summary of the progress and future goals of the site.
The Department of Energy site was originally built in the 1950s and used to produce nuclear materials as the country grew its stockpile of nuclear weapons. Since the end of the Cold War, the primary objectives at the site have been waste management and environmental restoration.

Ayers held without bond for A&B

A local resident who many know as the "Rump, Rump man" is in jail and could be there for a while.
Cecil Marion Ayers Jr., 63, of 9066 Marlboro Ave., Barnwell, was arrested last week and charged with three counts of assault and battery, according to Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. He is currently being held in the Barnwell County Detention Center without bond.

Chickens beware...and unruly dogs, too

There are a lot of Gamecock fans in Barnwell, but city residents looking forward to watching South Carolina football next season with a rooster by their side should beware.
Barnwell City Council unanimously passed the first reading of two ordinances to amend the city's animal code at its Dec. 3 regular meeting. The amendments stem from a letter Animal Control Officer Drayton Gantt wrote to council. Gantt was asked to review and propose changes to the city's animal ordinance.

Deadline approaches for S.C. Tissue

A little more than two years have come and gone, yet Barnwell County still does not have a tissue plant.
The proposed plant - announced in November 2010 - faces a Dec. 15 deadline set by the state in order to guarantee a $770,000 rural infrastructure grant.
Work is supposed to begin at the site, which sits on a plot of land surrounded by the Barnwell County Airport, before the deadline, or the grant will become null and void.
A trip to the site finds no sign of activity, just a blue sign welcoming the company to Barnwell.

Leaders ask for help

Most politicians are known for their speaking skill, but it was the listening abilities of two local state representatives that was on display Dec. 7.
State Sen. Brad Hutto and state Rep. Lonnie Hosey met with Barnwell city officials at Mr. B's restaurant to hear their concerns and plans for Barnwell in 2013.
The major concern was the lack of revenue the city has been bringing in the past few years since the economy crashed. State expenditures to municipalities have shrunk drastically, leaving gaps in Barnwell's regular sources of funds.

Audit shows Blackville improving financially

Blackville Town Council received its annual audit and review at its regular meeting Nov. 19.
The audit was conducted by Columbia accounting firm WebsterRogers LLP, which conducted the audit last year. Its Director Melissa Hallbick gave an overview of the audit's main points. A copy of the report was provided to The People-Sentinel. The audit is for the fiscal year that ended June 2012.

Redistricting public hearing

Barnwell City Council held a public hearing on the redistricting plan and voted on ordinances amending the city's animal code at its regular meeting, Monday, Dec. 3.
The council held a public hearing before its regular meeting to discuss the proposed redistricting plan for the city's six council districts. No residents spoke at the hearing. Council members discussed the plan amongst themselves, and all agreed they were satisfied with it. A representative for the NAACP was present at the hearing but did not address council.

Bamberg woman dies in car wreck

A Bamberg woman died early Nov. 30 after a car wreck in Barnwell County, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Gertie Lou Johnson, 48, of Broxton Bridge Road in Bamberg, died after she was ejected from her vehicle in a single-car accident on R.J. Johnson Road. The accident occurred shortly before 5:45 a.m. Johnson was the only person in the car and was not wearing a seat belt, according to information from SCHP.
Johnson's name was provided by the Barnwell County Coroner's Office.

Bamberg woman dies in car accident in Barnwell County

A Bamberg woman died early Friday morning after a car accident in Barnwell County, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Gertie Lou Johnson, 48, of Broxton Bridge Road in Bamberg, died after she was ejected from her vehicle in a single-car accident on R.J. Johnson Road. The accident occurred shortly before 5:45 a.m. Johnson was the only person in the car and was not wearing a seat belt, according to information from SCHP.

Redistricting hearing set

Barnwell City Council will hold a public hearing regarding the proposed redistricting plan for the city at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3.
Redistricting is needed to balance the populations of the city's six council districts. Data from the 2010 census shows population shifts within the city have caused the districts to become imbalanced.
During its regular meeting Nov. 5, Council heard a presentation from Bobby Bowers, director of the South Carolina Office of Research and Statistics, about a plan to redraw the districts in order to balance their populations.

Blackville finances strengthen

Blackville Town Council heard a report about its annual fiscal audit at their regular meeting Nov. 19.
The accounting firm WebsterRogers conducted the audit, and Melissa Hallbick, with the firm, gave the report to council. The report is for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
Hallbick said the report is generally good and that no "significant deficiencies" were found in the town's self-reporting. This pleased Mayor Michael Beasley, who asked Hallbick to repeat the statement.
Hallbick said the town has made "great improvement" in reporting its fiscal situation.

Christmas classic coming to Circle Theatre

"You'll shoot your eye out!"
That's the famous line from the classic American holiday film, "A Christmas Story." And it will soon be heard at Barnwell's Circle Theatre.
The theatre, with help from USC Salkehatchie, will perform a stage version of the film during the holiday season. Opening night is Friday, Nov. 30, at 8 p.m. Performances will also be held Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 8 p.m. Matinees will be held Dec. 2 and 9 at 3 p.m.

SC unemployment numbers fall below 9 percent

South Carolina's unemployment rate fell to its lowest rate in nearly four years in October, according to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
October's unemployment rate was 8.6 percent, down from 9.1 percent in September and 10 percent in October 2011.
The national unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, up from 7.8 in September. That was primarily because of an increase in the labor force.

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