Laura J. McKenzie

American Zinc Recycling apprentices earn awards

A local company is investing in its employees and, at the same time, their employees are investing in their future.

American Zinc Recycling in Snelling last week recognized five employees who had completed apprenticeships to become Electromechanical Technicians.

“Our program started six years ago with the support of the South Carolina Technical College System and Denmark Technical College (DTC),” said AZR plant manager Eric Stroom. “”It is a foundation element of our local organizational development initiatives.”

EDC given project updates

No action was taken by the Barnwell County Economic Development Commission on Feb. 5 but the commissioners met for close to an hour getting updates on projects.

Tommy Boyleston, who serves as the EDC’s executive director, said any votes on Economic Development Corporation assets would have to be in a corporation meeting. Since none was needed, the commission meeting would be for advisory matters only.

Barnwell County Council votes on three candidates for Administrator - none approved

“We don’t have an administrator,” said Barnwell County Council Chairman Lowell Jowers after three votes failed to approve the hiring of any of the three finalists during their regular council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

The first vote on Debbie Fickling resulted in a 3-3 deadlock. Chairman Jowers recused himself on an ethics ruling due to the fact that Fickling is his sister-in-law. Fickling is currently the business manager for the county.

Flu virus continues to spread across South Carolina

Flu activity is continuing to increase in the Palmetto state and while it’s unknown when the flu season activity will peak, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is encouraging South Carolinians to protect themselves against the flu.

According to DHEC statistics as of Jan. 20, more than 75 people in Barnwell County and up to 25 people in Allendale County had been diagnosed with the flu.

Barnwell County Council debates joining opioid lawsuit

A request to join in a lawsuit against drug companies got mixed reactions from Barnwell County Council members during a special meeting Jan. 23.

The council had received a request from Sen. Brad Hutto and Rep. Lonnie Hosey to give their support to a lawsuit being brought by the state against drug companies as a result of the opioid crisis.

Chairman Lowell Jowers said their support would not cost the county anything.

Councilman Freddie Houston moved to support the issue, seconded by Harold Buckmon.

D19 audit reveals issues

Blackville-Hilda’s District 19 School Board heard a report of the district’s 2016-17 audit in closed session but accepted it in open session and provided a copy immediately upon request. A dive into the details of that audit revealed the discovery of multiple bookkeeping and accounting issues.

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.

Court date set for EDC lawsuit

Despite discussions in hopes of ending a lawsuit between three local municipalities and the county, legal actions are proceeding.

A consent scheduling order was filed at the Barnwell County Courthouse setting a “non-jury trial” to hear the matter on April 2 before Judge Doyet A. Early.

Barnwell County Council Chairman Lowell Jowers also recently confirmed that no action has been taken since representatives from the county and the municipalities of Barnwell, Blackville and Williston met in November 2017.

Locals cash in on prizes at Augusta Futurity

Several Barnwell County residents rode to victory and earned prize money recently during the Augusta Futurity.

The Futurity, held Jan. 13-20 in Augusta, Ga., is a national cutting horse competition overseen by the Atlantic Coast Cutting Horse Association. It is considered to be the largest cutting horse event east of the Mississippi River.

In the $35,000 Non-Pro Any Age Finals, Kaylyn Huggins Baxley of Barnwell and her horse Swoop That Rey earned the first place championship spot and a $3,300 prize.

D19 superintendent receives $8,000 raise, contract extension

The Blackville-Hilda Schools superintendent received a raise and an extension of his contract Monday, Jan. 8 from the District 19 School Board.

At their regular meeting the board voted to give Dr. Shawn Johnson an $8,000 annual raise and extended his contract until 2020.

Board member Sharon McClary made the motion which was approved unanimously by the board members in attendance including Carroll Priester, Ethel Faust and Bill DeLoach. Karen Jowers was not at the meeting.

D45 school board honored; goals reviewed

A table full of gifts and a video by Barnwell Elementary students charmed members of the Barnwell District 45 School Board on Thursday, Jan. 11.

The gifts and serenade were to thank the board members during National School Board Appreciation Month.

Barnwell Elementary School students recorded a video of them singing “Hand to Hand, Heart to Heart”, which was played at the board meeting.

“We want to thank you for your commitment to our schools,” said Superintendent Crissie Stapleton. “We thank you for each and every day.”

Barnwell County Council approves zoning ordinance updates, sale of timber

The sale of timber in the Blackville Industrial Park and second reading on an updated county zoning ordinance were among the actions approved by the Barnwell County Council.

The council took the votes on Tuesday, Jan. 9 during their regular monthly meeting.

Council chairman Lowell Jowers said there were around eight changes to the zoning ordinance, “mostly correcting typos and wording – nothing of significance.”

Coach Berry inducted into second Hall of Fame

Coach David Berry of Blackville-Hilda High School was inducted Dec. 8 into the South Carolina Football Coaches Hall of Fame.

The ceremony took place in Myrtle Beach.

Berry, who retired in October 2017, has been the head football coach for the Hawks for 25 years and has had 24 consecutive winning seasons at Blackville-Hilda High School. During his tenure the Hawks recorded 257 wins and 97 losses, three state championships (in 1995, 2005 and 2007) and 13 region championships.

Denmark man dies in Williston crash

An early morning accident has claimed the life of a Bamberg County man, according to Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd B. Ward and S.C. Highway Patrol Cpl. Sonny Collins.

“Eric Banks, 33, of Voorhees Road, Denmark, was pronounced about 5:10 a.m. from injuries received in a one-car motor vehicle collision,” said Ward in a press release.

Employment trends improving in Barnwell, Allendale

The jobless rate in Barnwell County went up slightly in November while Allendale County’s went down a bit. But those lone statistics released recently by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) don’t tell the whole story of the employment situation locally.

Barnwell County’s jobless rate rose from 5.4 percent in October to 5.5 in November, according to the DEW. Allendale County’s rate dropped from 6.3 in October to 6.2 percent in November.

Williston gives first nod to apartment complex

A rezoning request on property slated for a middle-income apartment complex was given first reading by the Williston Town Council following a public hearing on Dec. 18.

The 3.75 acres of property is located on Main and Dicks streets. The apartment complex would have 32 to 38 units.

Gwen Jenkins of 265 Dicks Street, Williston, voiced her opposition to the rezoning request, saying she totally opposed low income housing being located next to her property. “This will lower the value of my property,” she said.

EDC ok’s timber bid

A bid for timber removal at the Blackville Industrial Park was approved by the Barnwell County Economic Development Corporation at its Dec. 18 meeting.

Attending the meeting were Corporation Board members/EDC Commissioners Steve Jowers, Toby Singletary, Joe Smith, Keith Sloan and Will Kearse.

The bid was approved for S.C. Timber Company to clear timber from a section of the park but the amount was not disclosed as it still has to be approved by the Barnwell County Council at its January meeting.

The action came after a 20-minute closed session.

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