Barnwell Municipal News - January

It is difficult to believe that 2008 is gone. It was a year of accomplishments for the City of Barnwell, its employees and City Council. It would be a good time at this moment to review the year and to give an idea of what to expect in 2009, which looks to be another exciting year.

One can't reflect on the year without first thinking of the city employees and department heads. The numerous accomplishments of 2008 would not have been possible without the team effort these employees achieved. I could not have asked for a better group to work with toward the goals of the City Council and its master plan.

Early in the year the city finished the Main Street lift station which increased sewage capacity by 60 percent to the area by Heathwood on the lake. After many debates through comments and surveys, the city came to a conclusion on how best to move forward on the navigational changes and the island placements on the Circle. Even though the city had to delay construction until now due to a required review of approved projects by the S.C. Department of Transportation, Barnwell is now prepared to move forward with the project. It has a start date of Jan. 19.

2008 was also a year of changes in the city's management teams.

Through it all, department heads and other employees stepped up to take care of many tasks without worrying whether the task was their "responsibility" or not. New faces have come and some have gone, but city management appreciates all who have stayed the course to get the job done.

A number of parks and areas have been spruced up this year thanks to hard work and a few grants.
A $65,000 grant from S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism provided a grant to place new fencing and lighting (and eventually new landscaping) at Fuller Park.

A Palmetto Pride grant in the amount of $3,800 provided funding to place new planters around the downtown area, which were built by the Barnwell County Career Center and are being maintained by downtown businesses.

The city parking lot received a major facelift thanks to the efforts and cooperation of Barnwell County and the city street department.

The city also received a competitive community grant from the S.C. Budget and Control Board for $24,000 to replace and refurbish the Circle fountain. The entrance signs coming into Barnwell were given a facelift with new planting areas provided by the hard-working street department employees.

In April 2008, the city launched its new Web site, www.cityofbarnwell.com, which provides updated information to citizens, visitors and other interested groups about the Barnwell community and what it has to offer. Take a look online and check it out. The Web site is updated at a minimum weekly and sometimes daily.

Barnwell also had some celebrations during the year including the Cities Mean Business month where the city recognized its oldest businesses. During the Festival on the Round, Barnwell celebrated the 150th anniversary of the sundial.

In December, the fountain was rededicated to one of Barnwell's most noted mayors, Herman I. Mazursky, who held the office for 30 years.

The municipal fire department received a $30,000 grant from the V-Safe program from the state legislature, which was designed for volunteer and combination fire departments. The funds used for this grant have assisted the city in equipping the refurbished ladder truck - a great accomplishment - which will help in Barnwell's overall fire rating.

The Barnwell Police Department answered 8,099 calls for service and responded to 299 alarms and investigated 224 traffic accidents. The department made 494 arrests during the year. The animal control unit answered 342 complaints and impounded 209 animals at the animal shelter.

The city's planning commission worked hard this year, with guidance from the Lower Savannah Council of Governments, to provide the city with an updated comprehensive plan and zoning maps for future development and growth opportunities.

The city's major projects for 2008 have been the renovation of the old bank building on the Circle for the new city hall and the Lemon Park sports complex. These projects have not been without interesting and sometimes frustrating setbacks and issues, such as honeybees, termites and rain.

Looking back on the goals in creating the master plan in 2006, "the central business district of Barnwell would be a road map for the community as a whole to do the following:
• Preserve and enhance the small town charm of Barnwell while taking advantage of strong growth patterns encroaching upon them from larger, nearby metropolitan areas;
• Create opportunities for economic growth in the community by reinforcing existing businesses and encouraging new business to locate to the community;
• Increase the quality of life for citizens of Barnwell through economic development and enhanced public amenities for the community."

The progress being made with these and other projects will assist Barnwell in accomplishing these goals. There is still have a long way to go, and the economy is not making it very easy. But in 2009, the city will continue to work toward its goals.

Expectations for Lemon Park will be that the cloverleaf fields, press box and concession stand and soccer/football field will be complete in mid-April with total completion of the park by the end of summer. City hall is expected to be complete by midsummer.

The city's new recreation director has created a new program guide filled with programs for all ages. People have complained sometimes that there is nothing to do in Barnwell. Well, not anymore! Check out these programs and support them.

The Circle navigational construction will begin in the next few weeks. The city again ask for citizens' cooperation and caution as the work is being completed in the next few months. The funding for this project comes from the Federal Highway Administration and is managed by S.C. DOT. Barnwell's administration is appreciative of the state for helping it move forward on this project.

Barnwell also received a 2009 Palmetto Pride grant of $4,000 to fund a new landscaping plan for the shrubbery area around the fountain. Shrubbery has been removed for in anticipation of this project.
As the city moves into 2009, look for updates in this column and on the municipal Web site for more information. If there are any questions or comments, call or come by the city hall at 124 Burr St.

(Each month John Zawacki, as the city administrator for Barnwell, submits column updating Barnwell residents of what is happening in Barnwell city government. His column is also printed in The People-Sentinel.)