David Purtell - Staff Writer

Robots visit D-45 school board

Robots were on display during the regular Barnwell District 45 school board meeting March 28.
Barnwell Elementary teacher Susan Gardner and students in the after-school robotics program demonstrated one of their modules for board members. Students learn to program robots to perform different tasks and then compete against other schools.
Gardner said students learn perseverance and teamwork. The program started three years ago and is open to students in fourth grade and higher.
In other business:

3rd Thursday sweeps back

The first Third Thursday of the year was held March 18, at the Circle in Barnwell. The Pagnett Brothers were the evening's entertainment.
Lynn Cox, director of community development for Barnwell, presented the Golden Broom award to the Animal Advocates Pick of the Litter store. Cox said the award is meant to promote a clean public space around local businesses. A new business will be chosen each month by the previous winner.

Utility bills rising for Blackville residents

Residents of Blackville will see their utility bills increase slightly beginning next January.
Town council voted to approve the second reading of two ordinances increasing the franchise fee for SCE&G by 2 percentage points, from 3 percent to 5 percent, at the regular meeting March 18.
That means the fee on a $100 bill with go from $3 to $5 for SCE&G customers. The town charges the company a fee to raise revenue, but the company simply passes the cost on to customers.

Williston interviews administrator applicants

Williston interviewed three candidates for the open town administrator position during a special-called meeting, Monday, March 25.
No action was taken after the interviews, which were held in closed session, and council members said they weren't any closer to making a decision.
The candidates were Kenneth Cook, Rose N. Dobson-Elliott and current Barnwell County Council member Keith Sloan.

County council member among candidates for Williston town adiminstrator

Williston currently has three candidates for the open town administrator position.

The candidates are Kenneth Cook, Rose N. Dobson-Elliott and current Barnwell County council member Keith Sloan.

Town council will hold a special-called meeting Monday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. to conduct interviews with the candidates. The interviews will be held in executive sessions.

Williston to get new truck; develops goals

Williston Town Council accepted a bid for a new fire truck during the March 11 regular meeting.
The truck will be built by KME-Kovatch, which is based in Pennsylvania, and will cost $234,600. The town received six bids to build the truck, KME was the lowest.
During the meeting, Fire Chief Milton Widener went over the details for council. He said the truck committee was able to save a few thousand dollars by making a modification to the foam system on the truck.
He said the truck should last "20 to 30" years.

Haley in town for special day

Barnwell residents came together while Gov. Nikki Haley was in town Saturday, March 16, celebrating Barnwell County Day.
The event, a combination health and job fair, along with plenty of activities for children, brought hundreds of people to Barnwell High School throughout the morning and afternoon. The free event was organized by the Haley's Original Six Foundation - started in 2011 as a way to help counties with high unemployment.

Barnwell audit finds no problems

Barnwell City Council heard a presentation on the city's annual audit during its regular meeting March 4.
Jim McGregor of McGregor & Company went through the audit with council. The audit found no problems with the city's bookkeeping, McGregor said.
At the end of last fiscal year, Sept. 30, the audit shows Barnwell's total net assets - total assets minus liabilities - amount to $10,222,535. Of that total, $2 million is unrestricted and can be used to pay off the city's debts. The town's current liabilities totaled $640,982, and its long-term liabilities were $4.1 million.

Family seeks answers in grandfather’s death

A family is still looking for closure - and answers - following the death of a loved one.
Kenneth Sandifer died Dec. 28 from injuries suffered when he was hit by a car in front of the Barnwell Walmart Dec. 22.
His daughters, ex-wife and other family have been struggling with their loss ever since. They don't understand how this could have happened and why the driver of the car that hit Sandifer was only given a traffic ticket.

The accident

Hospital welcomes new doctor

A "meet and greet" was held Feb. 28 at the Williston Fire Department for Dr. Paul Drago.

Drago is a new doctor working for the Barnwell County Hospital. He will spend most of his time at Williston Family Practice and the Blackville Medical Center.

Drago has 23 years of medical experience in both small and large cities. He began his career in Lancaster. Before coming to Barnwell, he was working for the state's prison system.

Barnwell County Day will be held March 16

Gov. Nikki Haley's Original Six Foundation will be hosting Barnwell County Day Saturday, March 16, at Barnwell High School.
The event, which will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., is a combination health fair and job fair. There will be free medical, dental, eye, chiropractic and diabetic screenings as well as information about health programs and Medicaid eligibility, according to a press release. Also, there will be free flu and tetanus vaccinations, and the Tdap will be available for children.

Barnwell approves new truck

Barnwell City Council has completed the process to buy a new fire engine.
Council held two special-called meetings Feb. 11 and 19 to pass an ordinance authorizing the purchase of the $359,210 truck. The purchase is already budgeted for.
The city is using a seven-year loan from BB&T for the purchase. The interest rate on the loan is 1.76 percent.
If the city pays the whole cost upfront it will save $10,000.
During a special-called meeting Jan. 16, council voted to accept a bid from Spartan Fire & Emergency Apparatus for the truck.

Missing Hilda man found dead in N.Y.

A New York native who had a home in Hilda was found deceased in his car Feb. 15 after he'd been missing for over two weeks.
Owen Conner, 77, of Sodus, N.Y., was found in Ontario County, N.Y. Reports said his car ran off the road over an embankment. It was discovered on its side in a creek. Ontario County is about 15 miles south of Sodus. Sodus is east of Rochester near the shore of Lake Ontario.
A cause of death is still pending.

Fees may increase as budget shrinks

Blackville residents may soon see their utility bills go up.
During its regular meeting Feb. 19, town council approved the first reading of an ordinance to increase the franchise fee the town charges SCE&G from 3 percent to 5 percent.
If the second reading is approved at next month's meeting, a customer with a $100 bill would see an increase of $2, from $3 to $5, as part of the fee.
Scott Neely of SCE&G was at the meeting and told council the fee increase would be passed along to customers.

Gloria Lebby Continues family business in father’s footsteps

Gloria Lebby is proud to continue her family's tradition of serving the community.
Lebby and her mother, Mrs. E. Mitchell Lebby, run the family's three funeral homes. Her mother is also a retired principal from the Blackville school district.
Her father, the late Clarence Lebby Sr., opened the first home in Denmark in 1935. Today there are locations in Barnwell and Blackville as well. Her mother joined the business when she married Lebby Sr.

Zumba helps woman dance off 100 pounds

A new business in Williston is seeking to help residents get back in shape.
In December 2011, Angela Carter's doctor asked her if she ever thought about getting healthy.
Carter decided to get on a program and see if she could improve her lifestyle. She changed her diet and started walking everyday, and eventually got up to three miles a day.
She attended a free Zumba class at the Barnwell Public Library in January 2012 and loved it.

Williston council approves event permits

Williston Town Council held its first regular meeting without former Town Administrator Chris Carter Feb. 11.
Roger LeDuc, the current administrator in Edgefield, is working part time in Williston as interim administrator. He was at the meeting and said he should be working in Williston about 20 hours a week.
Council's major business was to approve the first reading of two similar ordinances dealing with agreements to fees in lieu of taxes for an upcoming industry expansion in Williston.

Hot dog and Talk aims to take bite out of crime

Local youth and adults had a bite to eat and a discussion about guns, violence and anger at the Barnwell County Library Sunday, Feb. 17.
The event is called "Hotdog and Talk" and is run by Anthony B. Williams and his wife, Carrie.
Williams, who is originally from Barnwell, stressed that people need to control their anger and do the right thing when put in a potentially violent situation: walk away. He said guns are no joke and children need to "think first" and stay away from them.

DEW cuts shouldn’t hamper service

No changes will be made at Barnwell's state Department of Unemployment office following an announcement this month that the agency is cutting services.
The Feb. 4 announcement said DEW will stop in-person unemployment insurance assistance at several offices across the state, including its Allendale and Bamberg locations. Those offices will remain open for people to use computers and other services.

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