Hospital records to be digitized

Records at the former Southern Palmetto Hospital are going to be stored electronically following a vote by the Barnwell County Council.

The council on Dec. 12 voted to allow Star Point to digitize and store the patient records at a cost not to exceed $126,000.

Councilman Freddie Houston made the motion following a closed session during which one item for discussion was “potential contract negotiations related to the hospital bankruptcy.”

Sale of the hospital facility had been held up due to questions over ownership of patient records.

Houston said Star Point was selected because of work they had done for the former Bamberg Hospital.

The vote was unanimous.

The council also voted unanimously to approve a resolution to refinance revenue bonds. The council had previously issued $540,000 in bonds for financing of the new detention center. The refinancing lowers the interest rate the county has to pay for the loan.

In separate action the council held first reading of an ordinance related to zoning. No details accompanied the first reading and no vote was required. The ordinance, which requires three readings, will authorize an update of the county’s zoning maps.

A third action approved unanimously approved financing for a motor grader. The amount of the loan is not to exceed $165,000 at 2.95 percent interest. The load is for seven years.

Following an hour and 47-minute closed session, the council, in a split roll-call vote, extended the time to accept applications for the administrator’s job to January 15, 2018.

Those voting to extend the application time were Freddie Houston, Harold Buckmon, David Kenner and Ben Kinlaw. Voting against the extension were Don Harper, Jerry Creech and Lowell Jowers.

All applications are to be forwarded from the clerk to council to Chairman Lowell Jowers.

According to the agenda, the council also discussed a contract negotiation related to the resolution of Economic Development Commission/Corporation issue, a legal matter related to the museum, as well as Project Bradley.

Chairman Jowers said “nothing was settled” and no action was taken on these issues.

Administrator update

Barnwell County Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. said a recent disaster exercise held at the Barnwell County airport went well. “Several hundred people participated in it,” said Williams.

He also reported that $401,000 in construction building permits had been recorded in November. He said this is a good sign and “maybe we’ll see more in the future,” said Williams.

The administrator said a councilman had suggested putting information on the capital sales tax projects on the website. As a result, pictures and information on the county’s projects have been uploaded. Williams said municipal projects are “starting to move”.

Williams said pump testing of county fire trucks “went smooth” and all the testing has been completed.

In his financial update, Williams said revenues are “normal for the July-August-September time period” and expects revenues to be up in October.

Expenditures to date “look like we overspent” due to up-front payments for insurance, workers compensation and health/life insurance “but we will have other months of no payments,” said Williams. “Overall we are in good shape,” he said.

Public comments

During the public comments section of the meeting Rev. Herman Wallace, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church and chairman of the Blackville Neighborhood Watch, said he and other Blackville residents “have made a commitment to attend county council meetings.

He said he was recently appointed to a board at Denmark Technical College and learned there has been “little contribution” from Barnwell County to the college. He appealed to the councilmen to review that status in the future.

Wallace also said, “We have some (neighborhood watch) members here. We want to let you know we are concerned about Blackville and concerned about Barnwell County. We will be here and participating more in the future.”

Ethel Washington said she serves on the county grievance board and Axis 1 board as well as serving as vice president of the Blackville Community Development Corporation and the Music and Arts Festival board. “I see the growth of other towns around us and want to know what we can do to help county council and help Blackville. Blackville is a part of this county.”

Chairman Jowers said, “I grew up in Blackville and am aware of your situation.”

He welcomed those attending and asked for their continued participation.