Bamberg County

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Bamberg County’s Countywide Cleanup on Oct. 23 included more than 131 volunteers who collected 174 bags of trash along 15.6 miles of county roadways.

BAMBERG – About 130 volunteers collected more than 170 bags of trash during Bamberg County’s Countywide Cleanup.

Laura J. McKenzie, coordinator of the Be Bamberg campaign, reported on the Oct. 23 cleanup during the Bamberg County Council meeting held Nov. 1.

More than 131 volunteers collected 174 bags of trash across 15.6 miles of the county’s roadways, she said.

“We had 13 teams who pre-registered, plus a few people who worked individually around their neighborhood. The large team of 30-plus volunteers was from Denmark-Olar High School, whose entire football team turned out early Saturday morning following a Friday night football game!” McKenzie said.

T-shirts, bottled water and bags were provided for volunteers.

“SCDOT also picked up the bags on Monday following the event. Keep Bamberg County Beautiful provided the long-handled grippers, gloves and assistance. Bamberg County helped monitor the teams to make sure everyone was safe and had enough supplies,” McKenzie said.

She said she was grateful for the support of the county’s new KBCB coordinator and public information officer, Sh’Kur Francis, along with County Operations Director Bill Johnson.

“I am extremely grateful to all the volunteers who turned out for the clean day and those who helped me with organization and support. While it is an investment of time and effort, it was truly an investment in Bamberg County with dividends of pride for everyone,” McKenzie said.

In other matters:

• Council gave first reading approval in title only to a redistricting ordinance. Council is preparing to hammer out a plan to redefine the boundaries of the county council districts.

“This is in title only. You’re not voting on a map tonight. I want everyone to understand that. You’ve seen your districts, and they’ve changed very little,” County Administrator Joey Preston said.

Second reading of the ordinance will be held during a special called meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Bamberg County Courthouse Annex.

The county is redrawing council districts to reflect changes in population, as noted in the last Census.

• Preston read an email from county resident Miriam Beard, who said the lack of animal control services is a problem affecting residents’ health and safety.

“If upgrades can be made to an airport, monies can be (used to) fund improvements to existing facilities in this department,” Beard said.

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• Council approved a resolution authorizing the expansion of Quad-County Industrial Park III for the inclusion of Evanesce, which designs, develops and manufactures sustainable packaging solutions. The $17 million investment will create 78 jobs in Hampton County.

Under the revenue-sharing agreement among Bamberg, Barnwell, Hampton and Allendale counties, the host county for an incoming industry in Quad-County Industrial Park III will receive 70 percent of the tax revenues, with the remaining three counties receiving 10 percent.

• County Treasurer Alice Johnson gave the September financial report, stating the county had $803,095.15 in income and expenditures of $712,086.67, leaving a positive balance of $91,008.48. When the negative bank balance at the end of August ($237,711.30) was added, the county’s regular account stood at a negative $146,702.82.

County Controller Gina Smith later explained that Johnson’s report was just the cash balance for one of the county’s many bank accounts.

“We are not short because there are other bank accounts with money in them. This is why on my cash report, I show all the other accounts to demonstrate that the county has money in the bank,” she said.

That includes $821,379 in its property tax rollback account as of the end of September.

The county’s cash balance from September 2020 as compared to September 2019 actually showed an increase of $596,820.

Smith said, “That’s due to the $500,000 transfer we did from the American Rescue Plan funds over to the general fund. … Part of the allowed usages of those funds was to replace lost revenues that counties and municipalities had incurred during the pandemic.”

• County Finance Director T.M. Thomas reported that the county’s general fund had year-to-date revenues as of the end of September of $1,009,991, with expenses coming in at $1,559,287, for a negative general fund balance of $549,296.

Smith later said, “Because the bulk of our revenue is taxes and those mostly come in during the months of December and January, we have to have a fund balance on hand, which we do have. Most counties will have a negative cash flow the first six months of the year.

“This is normal. To compensate for that, all counties have cash or fund balances which they use to pay their bills and to make payroll during the first six months.”

• In his report, Preston reported that 60.8 percent of Bamberg County residents have had at least one COVID-19 vaccination, up from 58.7 percent in August. Fifty-four percent have completed vaccination, up from 50 percent since the last report.

“Bamberg County has achieved the milestone of having 50 percent of eligible residents vaccinated, but it’s still under the state and national average,” the administrator said.

Preston also reported that the county’s first fire service banquet will be held 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Andrew Jackson Academy gymnasium.

“We’ll be recognizing a couple of chiefs that are retiring that evening. Of course, we’ll have a program, too, for that evening,” he said.

• SouthernCarolina Alliance Project Manager Garrett Dragano also attended the Nov. 1 meeting, with his report indicating that are currently 15 active projects in the county, with nine site visits from 37 project submittals.

Two promising projects for Bamberg County include Project Canvas, which could make a $400,000 investment and create 80 jobs, and Project Superior, which could invest $1.5 million and create 25 jobs.

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD.

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