City Council moves forward with new member, discusses task force

Barnwell City Council welcomed a new member during its regular meeting Oct. 7.
William B. Dozier, of Meadow Lane, was sworn in as the councilman for District 1. He replaces J.T. Atkinson, who did not run for re-election. Returning council members Benjamin Duncan, District 3, and Robert S. Patillo, District 5, were also sworn in.
Barnwell did not have an election this year because the three candidates did not have opposition. State law allows municipalities to cancel elections when all candidates are unopposed and no one has filed as a write-in candidate before the filing deadline. Council voted in July to skip the election, which saved the city a few thousand dollars.
Councilman Pickens Williams Sr. was chosen to continue as Mayor Pro Tem for the new council term.
Council went into closed session to discuss the proposed intergovernmental agreement to fund a gang/drug task force that would be under the Sheriff's control. The plan calls for both the county and its municipalities to help pay for a group of officers that would focus solely on gang and drug activity in the county. Under the plan, Barnwell would be on the hook for around $47,500 a year - $10 per resident living in the city. That money would come from the city's reserve fund.
After the closed session council voted unanimously to go along with the plan, but only if three conditions are met: First, they will only pay for one year at a time. Second, all the other towns in the county - and county council - must agree to join. Three, there must be some sort of accountability standards or oversight for the task force.
A contract has not yet been presented to the municipalities. County council is in the process of putting one together.
In other business:
•Third Thursday on the Cirlce this month (Oct. 17) will be a Halloween theme see our story on page 11A for more details.
•The makeover of the Main Street water tower is complete. The tower had repairs to both the interior and exterior including a new paint job. Councilman W.C. Black said Barnwell has the best looking water tower in the state.
•The police department had to buy a new cruiser after one was totaled when two police cars smashed into each other during a chase in August. The other one has been repaired and is back on the road.