Pastor honored; water issues discussed in Blackville

The Blackville Town Council recognized a local pastor for his work in the community.

Bishop George Burckhalter, president of the Barnwell County Ministerial Association, was honored by the council on Oct. 16 during a regular council meeting.

Burckhalter was presented a plaque for his community service and Mayor Michael Beasley noted that the bishop with the Ministerial Association has most recently spearheaded a project to purchase and place new playground equipment at Macedonia Elementary School.

During the business section of the meeting the council was updated on Halloween curfew times by Blackville Police Chief John D. Holston.

Holston said the curfew will be from 6 until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31. “We are asking that anyone participating in trick-or-treating be ages 12 and under and be accompanied by a responsible adult,” he said.

He said the Together Sisters are planning an event at the Blackville Community Center and “I know there are other organizations planning events.”

Mayor Beasley asked that anyone noticing anything suspicious to contact 911. “We don’t want any of our kids to get injured during this event,” said the mayor. “We will have officers on patrol.”

Penny tax and budget

During discussion of the town’s finances, the mayor praised town staff for their efforts thus far in the fiscal year. “We are in-line and even under budget in some areas,” said Beasley.

Related to finances the mayor said the town is starting to receive funding from the 1 percent capital sales tax and that money is already helping improve the town’s ancient water and sewer system.

“We have already made $80,000 in improvements,” reported Beasley.

He said a well which has been offline for over a year was scheduled to be placed online on Oct. 17. “That will improve water flow and help with the discolored water.”

He noted that many of the town’s water lines are over 100 years old.

During the public comment period of the meeting, several residents complained about the brown color and smell of the water.

Beasley said the well coming online should improve some of those problems.

Improvements to the water and sewer system “won’t be a quick fix,” said Beasley, “but we are working on the problem,” thanks largely to the penny sales tax.

He said other areas of funding are also being investigated. “I’d love to see the whole town upgraded but it takes funding,” said Beasley.

Some of the mayor’s comments were in response to questions and complaints from the 21 people attending, many of whom are members of the Blackville Neighborhood Watch.

Rev. Herman Wallace represented the group who were mostly concerned about the ongoing water problems but appreciative of the town’s attention to the problem.

They invited members of the town council as well as the police department to attend their meetings which are scheduled for the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at Tabernacle Baptist Church.

Later, during the mayoral and council comment period of the meeting, the group was praised by the council members for their attendance and participation to make Blackville a better community.

“When people come together and be a part of something, a difference will be made,” said Mayor Beasley.

His comments were echoed by council members Fred Orr, Kelvin Isaac, Ann Pernell, Steve Jowers and Allen Harrison. Mayor pro-tem Vivian Alston was absent from the meeting.

The council members were also invited to attend meetings of the Blackville Music and Arts Festival committee in order to improve communication between the town and festival organizers.

Closed session

The council then went into closed session for 20 minutes to discuss contractual matters related to the Barnwell County Economic Development Corporation/Commission and, in a separate matter, the Southeastern Housing and Community Development.

No action was taken by the council upon return to open session.