Laura J. McKenzie

Public invited to Amateur Radio Field Day on Saturday and Sunday

The Salkehatchie Amateur Radio Society (SARS) will be participating in the nationwide annual Amateur Radio Field Day the weekend of June 24.

Amateur radio operations will occur starting at noon on Saturday, June 24 at the Barnwell County Emergency Operations Center at the Barnwell County Courthouse and will run continuously until noon on Sunday, June 25, said Emergency Management Director Roger Riley.

The call sign of the SARS is KK4BQ.

County Council hears positive healthcare updates

Healthcare was the primary topic of discussion last week for the Barnwell County Council.

During their June 13 meeting, the council learned details of a regional emergency department and got updates on a local urgent care and an air ambulance service.

S.C. Senator Brad Hutto told the council that Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg is opening a free-standing emergency department on 10 acres of property just west of Denmark in Bamberg County. The facility will serve the region but Bamberg and Barnwell counties in particular.

Barnwell man charged with bigamy

A Barnwell man has been charged with bigamy after his wife allegedly discovered a second marriage.

According to an incident report filed with the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office, a woman stated she had gotten married in April 2010 in Barnwell County but recently learned that her husband had gotten married again in Hampton County in June 2016.

She told officers that she and her husband had never gotten a divorce.

After checking with Family Court and finding no record of divorce proceedings, the case was brought before a local judge who issued a warrant.

Orchids Paper ‘expanding its boundaries’

Orchids Paper Products is “expanding its boundaries” and, to celebrate, held a ribbon-cutting last week for its new plant in Barnwell.

The event was held Wednesday, June 14 at the plant located at 285 Midfield Road (near the Barnwell County Airport) with local and state political, economic development and business representatives attending.

Jeff Schoen, Orchids Paper Products CEO, said that in the last several years “the company has invested over $200 million to expand its business, to expand its capabilities and to grow.”

Unemployment rates continue downward trend

Barnwell and Allendale counties both continue to see a downward trend in their unemployment rates.

According to statistics recently released by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW), Barnwell County’s rate was 5.2 percent in May, a drop from 5.3 percent in April as well as down from 6.4 percent a year ago. Allendale’s rate also went down from 6.5 in April to 6.4 in May; a drop from 7.7 percent in May 2016.

ER doesn’t affect urgent care plans

When asked about the impact of the RMC announcement, two local medical providers say the ER will not change what they are doing.

Roger Phillips of Heritage Health Care said it would not have any impact on his plans to open a Barnwell urgent care clinic.

In fact, he said they held a “soft opening” of the Barnwell clinic this week but are just seeing patients “by appointment only” for the short term.

“We have two nurse practitioners and are open five days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” said Philips. “We will be open seven days a week by the end of August.”

Williston raises water/sewer rates

Water and sewer rates in Williston were raised and the 2017-18 budget was adopted Monday night, June 12, after the town council approved second reading of three ordinances.

In presenting the ordinances related to the water and sewer rates, Williston Town Administrator Kenny Cook said this is the first time in four years the rates have been increased. He also noted that Williston’s current rates are 22 percent lower than towns of similar size in South Carolina.

The rate increase will impact residential, commercial and industrial customers.

Kerosene mixture leads to evacuation of 2 apartments

Two apartments at Maple Glen Apartment Complex in Barnwell were evacuated after a tenant attempted to fumigate his apartment.

The call came in to the Barnwell Fire Department a little after noon on Monday, June 12, to respond to an apartment which smelled of kerosene. Responders later called in Barnwell County Emergency Management to investigate.

EMD Director Roger Riley said a tenant had sprayed kerosene mixed with other chemicals in the apartment in an attempt to do “homeowner-type” pest control around Thursday of last week. Since then the fumes had gotten stronger.

RMC proposes to build Emergency Department to serve Barnwell and Bamberg counties

The Regional Medical Center (RMC) in Orangeburg is proposing to build an $8.63 million, 20,500 square-foot, freestanding 24/7 emergency department for Bamberg and Barnwell counties, according to a press release from RMC.

The release stated, “The facility is being made possible by the leadership of Senators Brad Hutto and John Matthews.”

Both Hutto (D-40) and Matthews (D-39) represent Orangeburg County. Hutto also represents Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, and Hampton counties.

County responds to EDC lawsuit

The county has filed an “answer” in a lawsuit filed by three local municipalities, basically saying the towns’ complaint is “moot and presents no case.”

Three local municipalities filed suit March 23 against the County of Barnwell and the Barnwell County Economic Development Corporation. The suit claims an ordinance approved March 14 by the Barnwell County Council “was adopted illegally” and “violates and breaches the agreements between the Municipalities and the County”.

EDC meets with attorneys

The members of the Barnwell County Economic Development Commission are in an awkward spot as a result of a lawsuit filed by three municipalities against the county and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

Because of the lawsuit, the 7-member commission still oversees the assets of the corporation despite an ordinance passed last month to dissolve the corporation and move the assets under the county treasurer.

Gov. McMaster: ‘We have jobs seeking people’

SouthernCarolina Alliance celebrated its successes in the last year and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster joined the celebration.

The governor, Congressman Joe Wilson, state, county and municipal politicians as well as industrial and business leadership from the SCA's 6-county area attended the annual celebration dinner at USC Salkehatchie in Allendale on Thursday, May 25.

SCA encompasses Allendale, Barnwell, Bamberg, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.

‘Family’ of seniors graduate BHHS

As the sun set on the football field of Blackville-Hilda High School, the Class of 2017 cherished the last moments of their high school experiences.

Diplomas were presented to 47 graduates by BHHS principal Michael Beasley and District 19 Superintendent Dr. Shawn Johnson in a 30-minute ceremony held on the field. The graduates were then congratulated by members of the D19 School Board.

Not only were the stands filled with friends and family, but both Valedictorian Alyssa Delaney Ray and Salutatorian Amir Deovance Hay expressed how their classmates were also their family.

Memorial Day service planned for Monday, May 29

A Memorial Day service will be held Monday, May 29 at the Veterans Memorial Park in Barnwell.

The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

The service is being sponsored by the Barnwell County Leathernecks, a detachment of the Marine Corps League, and the Salkehatchie Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Leathernecks Commandant Bobby Birt of Williston said the event is a way to “honor all veterans who have given the supreme sacrifice” as well as those who have passed on in the last year.

Barnwell County Council approves 2nd reading of budget

The proposed 2017-18 budget and an increase in solid waste fees were among the agenda items discussed by the Barnwell County Council during their monthly meeting on May 9.


Among the action items taken by council was second reading of the 2017-18 county budget.

The proposed budget totals balances at $14,460,089 in both revenues and expenses.

Special account expenditures not included in the general fund amount to $693,000.

Blackville approves first draft of 2017-18 budget

The Blackville Town Council approved first reading of the 2017-18 budget during its May 15 regularly scheduled monthly meeting.

Mayor Michael Beasley said an item to be discussed between the first and final readings is a potential raise for employees. He said this was due to a “line item being freed up.”

The current draft is a balanced budget of $1,015,719.

The worksheet comparing the current year with the proposed budget shows a drop in revenue from property taxes by $1,424 plus the elimination of $94,474.74 from a grant.

Schumpert’s holds Customer Appreciation Day

Schumpert’s Market held an Appreciation Day at its store in Williston on Saturday, May 20.

The day included special sales, free hot dogs and sodas, and a drawing for 21 prizes including Zebco Hawg Seeker fishing rods, coolers and a “big easy oil-less turkey fryer”.

Managers Jarrett Schumpert (owner/manager), Ernie Renew (produce), Tom Bramlett (store) and David Jowers (meat) along with owner Marisa Schumpert were on hand to assist customers who took advantage of the special prices from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Negotiations underway for urgent care center loan

Negotiations are underway between Heritage Healthcare and Barnwell County for a loan of $125,000 to get the urgent care facility started.

Discussions at a recent county council meeting indicated that Roger Phillips of Heritage Healthcare had requested the money but Phillips said this week that he never asked for the loan, rather that the county council had offered the money as an incentive to provide coverage seven days a week.

“I have not – would not – ask for any funds from the county,” said Phillips. “They (the county council) came to us.”


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