Barnwell administrator delaying retirement
The City of Barnwell’s administrator has agreed to postpone his retirement until the completion of several big projects.
John Zawacki had planned to retire in March, but Barnwell City Council asked him to stay until September 15, 2020. Council approved to employ Zawacki after March 1 during the Jan. 8 meeting after discussing the administrator’s position in closed session. The motion also increased Zawacki’s pay by $485 per month and gave him an additional week of vacation.
“The reason for staying is completing the public safety buildings (phase 1 and 2), refurbishment of the Rose Street water tower, and construction of the new digester at the wastewater treatment plant. By my staying these programs will go on without any problems while trying to bring a new administrator up to speed on these projects,” said Zawacki.
Earlier in the meeting, Zawacki updated council on the status of those three projects.
Progress is being made on the new public safety buildings, which will remain downtown and be paid for with funds from the voter-approved penny sales tax.
The city purchased the two-story building on Burr Street that last housed Debra’s & Tawni’s Floral Creations and a one-story dilapidated house across the street. Council has also approved the purchase of a home on Jefferson Street, which is behind the old floral shop, but the sale has not closed yet. The total cost of the three properties is $170,000, said Zawacki.
Crews from Thompson Wrecking have been in Barnwell removing asbestos from the two Burr Street buildings. The old floral shop was torn down last week while the Jefferson Street house will be demolished once the current owner moves out.
The new police department will be built on the property of the former floral shop, Jefferson Street house and city parking lot. Once it is constructed, the current police and fire departments across the street will be demolished to make way for a new fire department. The new public safety buildings will include more space and features than current facilities offer.
“We are still waiting on the drawings of the new properties so our architect can start his final design for council’s approval and to prepare bid packages,” said Zawacki.
Council awarded the Rose Street water tower refurbishment project to Utility Service Co., Inc. out of Perry, Ga.
Utility Service Company’s bid of $227,000 was the lowest of the three bids the city received for the project. The other bids were $284,400 from The Leary Construction Co. out of Greenfield, Indiana and $285,000 from Gastonia, N.C.-based R.E. McLean Tank Company.
Zawacki said the cost is high due to lead paint that has to be removed. He said the refurbishment is needed and must be done every 20 years. The water tower was last refurbished in 1998.
The city is moving forward with replacing the digester at the wastewater treatment plant after receiving a $500,000 grant from the Rural Infrastructure Authority.
The new digester is needed because the current one is at the end of its useful life. It was constructed in 1954 and upgraded in 1984.
Zawacki said they should have bid packages ready to advertise by early February.
In other news:
• Billy Dozier (District 1) and Robert Pattillo (District 5) were sworn in for another term on council while Rev. Harris Barker (District 3) was sworn in as the newest councilman.
•Councilman Pickens Williams Sr. was once again nominated and approved as mayor pro-tem.
•Andrew Milligan took the oath of office as a new police officer.
• The city has had a request to rezone 3.5 acres at 320 Reynolds Road from R-12 to Neighborhood Commercial. Zawacki said several people have expressed an interest in opening a restaurant at the former Legion Center building, but it is not currently zoned for a business. He said some other properties nearby are zoned as Neighborhood Commercial. The city’s planning commission will meet on Jan. 22 at 6:15 p.m. to review the request.
• Zawacki said the Elberta Circle neighborhood is receiving a facelift after a group that purchased 18 homes there is working to renovate them and clean up the neighborhood.
• The Orchids Paper Products plant is using approximately 760,000 gallons of water per day, which is in line with the company’s estimates.
• In a recreation update, basketball games started Jan. 8 with 13 basketball teams and two cheer squads while baseball/softball season starts in March. Upcoming events include: Daddy-Daughter Dance on Feb. 9 at Barnwell Elementary and Bunny Brunch and Easter Egg Hunt on March 24.
• Wil Alexander was appointed to the board of zoning appeals. Zawacki said one more member is needed. They also need three members on the planning commission.
• During public comment, resident Niurka Donaldson said the city needs an indoor basketball court. As a mother of four, including three daughters, she said only boys play at the Fuller Park basketball court and the school facilities are too small.