Location of new safety building stalls project

An agreement on the location for the new public safety building is stalling the project.

Barnwell City Council was scheduled to vote on approval of a location for the new home of the police and fire departments so the city could negotiate a price with the landowner. They were also supposed to review a draft AIA (American Institute of Architects agreement with the public safety building architect. However, council tabled action on both items at the Aug. 7 meeting.

“Council could not get a consensus on the location,” said City Administrator John Zawacki.

Council did take action on other items, including changing the time of regularly scheduled meetings, which are typically the first Monday of every month, from 6:30 to 5:30 p.m. They also approved the second reading of Ordinance 2017-1 to raise and adopt a budget for the fiscal year ending September 30. The only change from first reading was adding $9,000 for turf management at Lemon Park because “we are starting to lose the fields to weeds,” said Zawacki. The additional expense will be paid for with hospitality funds.

In his monthly report, Zawacki updated council on Orchids Paper Products. Now in their eighth week of startup, he said, things are going well with the incoming processed water from Orchids to the wastewater treatment plant. Orchids plans to start using recycled pulp this month, which Zawacki said will likely cause their water usage to increase. The plant will be fully operational by September, he said.

The city has the opportunity to acquire the wells and water tank on the property of the old Sara Lee plant. Zawacki said the industry that owns the property has no use for them.

“These wells produced 400,000 gallons of water per day for Sara Lee. The well system would be a great backup for us with the Orchids plant,” said Zawacki.

Parks and Recreation Director Pamela Davis said 134 participants have signed up for fall football and cheerleading, including 48 cheerleaders, 20 for flag football, 20 seven and eight year olds, 25 nine and 10 year olds, and 21 11 and 12 year olds. Games begin Sept. 11 and run through Oct. 31.

A group of young men held tryouts on August 5 for an adult semi-pro football team in Barnwell. They will be under the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League, which has teams across the Southeast. If formed, the team will play at Lemon Park, said Davis, who also thanked Barnwell police officers for keeping an eye on local parks.

Barnwell Police Chief Brian Johnson, who was sworn in at the beginning of the meeting, asked council to consider revising Section 20-162 of the city’s codes that relates to fireworks. He said his department received several complaints on July 4 about fireworks being shot near buildings. While consumer grade fireworks are acceptable to shoot within the city, a permit is needed for professional grade. Johnson asked council to add the class levels of fireworks in the code.

Last up was Lynn McEwen, director of tourism and downtown development, who told council it’s about time to start the U.S. Census process again. She encourages residents to fill out the form because the “census really helps us out.” Unfortunately, she said, the previous census hurt the city by recording a significant loss in population.

She also announced that Barnwell High School’s Homecoming parade is Sept. 15.