Blackville selected for energy savings program

The Town of Blackville has been selected as first in Barnwell County to benefit from an energy savings project.

Gerald Freeman and Scott Neely of South Carolina Electric & Gas/SCANA told the Blackville Town Council on Tuesday, Jan. 16 that Blackville residents within a specific map area have been selected for a Neighborhood Energy Efficiency Program. Freeman is the Residential Program Manager for SCE&G while Neely is the Local Government Manager for SCANA.

The program involves going into homes that are serviced by SCE&G and providing energy-saving work including wrapping pipes, replacing incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs, replacing filters, installing trickle power strips for appliances that use small amounts of electricity 24/7, and kitchen faucet aerators to improve water usage.

“We are extremely excited to bring this program to Blackville,” said Freeman.

He said the program started in 2013 in the Columbia area and then in Charleston. “Last year this program did 3,000 homes,” said Freeman. “It helps individual homes for all residents who pay a SCE&G bill.”

“Our goal is to get to every home within the Town of Blackville,” said Freeman. “Currently we have a customer list of 1,000 homes.”

Select homes designated within a map area will be eligible for the program. “The biggest challenge we have is residents allowing us entry,” said Freeman. “I want to assure them that this is absolutely free to the residents. We understand that when someone offers something free, people tend to be skeptical. We want to answer their questions, calm their fears and assure them that this really is free.”

Freeman said a kickoff and information meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 6 at the Blackville Community Center beginning at 6 p.m. “We want everyone to attend this kickoff and get information on the program,” said Freeman.

Customers will be able to schedule a time for the energy survey and update during the kickoff but, if they are unable to attend, they will be contacted first by mail with a scheduling post card.

The kickoff meeting will include a light meal and a chance to win one of two $25 gift cards. Those wishing more information may call toll-free (855) 342-8548.

Neely said the program will take several months to complete assuming all 1,000 homes will need to be surveyed. “Maybe later in the year we may be able to add Williston or Barnwell, but we are starting with Blackville,” he said. “It has been a great success in other areas.”

Blackville Mayor Michael Beasley said he was “happy Blackville was chosen first” for the program. The council including Kelvin Isaac, Ann Pernell, Allen Harrison, Steve Jowers Sr. and Fred Orr all indicated their support for the program. “Anytime our citizens can benefit with partnership, that is a positive,” said Beasley.

Safety resolution

In other business the council approved a resolution regarding its safety policies.

Noting that the town considers its employees as its “most important resource”, the resolution states, “the Town of Blackville will endeavor to provide a work environment free of recognized hazards through the establishment and implementation of loss control policies and procedures.”

Procedures “are designed to provide protection to town employees, public and private property, and members of the public,” the resolution stated. “The Town of Blackville will support compliance with all Federal and State safety regulations; provide and train employees in the use of personal protective equipment; and ensure that all employees are advised of and understand their loss control responsibilities in the performance of their work.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution.

Financials

Mayor Beasley reported the town is “in line with our budget.”

He credited the town’s employees “for sticking to the budget” and also thanked town clerk/treasurer Harriett McKnight with working with department heads “to make it happen.”

Comments

Councilwoman Ann Pernell announced the annual pancake and waffle supper will be held on Feb. 5 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Blackville-Hilda High School cafeteria. The supper is a fundraiser “which sponsors the Christmas parade and other events,” said Pernell. “This is our only fundraiser.” The cost is $6 per plate and participants can “eat in or dine out,” she said.

Nancy Roberts thanked the town for clearing up a water and sewer problem at her home. She had complained about the problem at the December meeting but said it had been since remedied and she wanted to thank the town employees for responding to her complaint.

Ethel Washington said she had presented a packet of information in December regarding the Music and Arts Festival and wanted to know if the mayor and council had taken the opportunity to look at the package. This year’s festival is scheduled for May 18 and 19.

Mayor Beasley said an environmental study is ongoing for the former middle school building in advance of demolition. “I can’t wait to see that area clean and free of that rundown building,” said the mayor.

He said he would “like to bring all our organizations together to see what we can do to bring our community forward.” The mayor noted that many organizations overlap in their service to the community and a joint meeting could help find areas where joint efforts would benefit everyone involved.

The council also extended their condolences to the family of town employee Inell Waring who lost her mother, Mary Holman, over the holidays.