Blackville wins state public service award

An award and guest speakers were the focus of the Blackville Town Council's regular meeting July 15.
Mayor Mike Beasley said he would be going to Greenville with other council members over the weekend to accept the town's public service award from the Municipal Association of South Carolina.
The award is recognition of the town's Community Action Team, which formed in response to a string of violence in the community in 2011.
The team -- made up of residents, youth, religious leaders and town officials -- focuses on reaching out to the town's young people, forming neighborhood watch groups and developing community events.
Dozens of people have since joined neighborhood watch groups, and crime has gone down as a result. Police Chief John Holston has praised the watch groups for helping make the town a safer place.
The Taste of Blackville and the Blackville Music and Arts Festival have brought hundreds of people to the town's Main Street for community celebrations.
"I think that's a great thing for our community," Beasley said about the award.
Guest speakers were at the meeting to talk about the county hospital, the Boy Scouts and Barnwell State Park.
Mary Valliant, CEO of the newly named Southern Palmetto Hospital, spoke about the plans for the hospital now that is in the hands of a private company. (Story above.)
Jeff Schwab, a scout executive with the Boys Scouts of America, talked about what the Boy Scouts can bring to Blackville.
"It's young people who are in small communities who get the best benefits of scouting," he said.
He detailed how the goal of the Boy Scouts is to develop character, a sense of duty and responsibility in boys and young men. He said the organization teaches teamwork and the joy of the outdoors.
Most council members were very warm to the idea of having the Scouts in Blackville. Mayor Pro Tem Vivian Alston said a community survey conducted last fall showed hundreds of residents want to see Boy and Girl Scout troops in the community.
Councilman Russ Reed was the only councilmember who voiced disapproval of the idea. He said he cannot support the Boy Scouts now that the organization has decided to allow openly gay youth to join troops.
In May, the Boy Scouts of America National Council voted 757 to 475 to lift the ban on gay children. Adults who are openly gay are still banned from being troop leaders.
Reed said he's against having Boy Scouts in Blackville "as long as the Boy Scouts continue to support that kind of immoral lifestyle."
Reed said he removed his son from the organization after the decision was made to allow homosexuals.
Eddie Richburg, director of Barnwell State Park, spoke about the many things the park -- located of Hwy. 3 about a mile south of Blackville -- has to offer the community.
There are 25 campsites for rent, walking trails, a swimming area, picnic areas, and paddle boats available, he said.
"We have some kids coming out there seven days a week to swim," Richburg said. The park is open Monday thru Thursday from 9 a.m. until its dark, and on weekends in the summer until 9 p.m.
Children can get free fishing lessons from a ranger, Richburg said.
To check out all the stuff you can do at the park, visit its website at www.southcarolinaparks.com/barnwell.
In other business:
• Councilman Kevin Isaac recognized Rev. Floyd Hughes Sr. of Macedonia Baptist Church as the community person of the month.
• Beasley said he is working to get another grocery store to come to Blackville. Ken's Galaxy has been closed for nearly two months after a fire, and Beasley said he hasn't gotten a definitive answer from the owner on when the store will reopen.
Council didn't hold any votes during the meeting.