Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler’s State of City Address

In a sweeping “State of the City of Orangeburg” address, Mayor Michael Butler on Tuesday night touched on the many ongoing efforts to improve the city.

“For the longest time, Orangeburg has been a hidden jewel and it is time to make her shine,” Butler told those gathered for the address at the recently upgraded Stevenson Auditorium.

“As we move forward, we want to continue to make Orangeburg a destination and make her one of the best places in South Carolina to work and live,” he said.

“Orangeburg is an exceptional city and I am proud to be your mayor and I am proud of the things we have accomplished, but there is still work to be done and I look forward to that challenge.”

Butler’s address focused on the city’s accomplishments during the past year and goals for the upcoming year. He was joined on stage by other city council members and city employees.

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Butler reflected on his past nine years as mayor. He was first elected in 2013, becoming the first African American mayor in the city’s history.

“During this time, the city has seen many changes and we have had to deal with some challenges, but I am proud to be your mayor and I am so excited for where we are and what the future holds for the City of Orangeburg,” he said.

“Currently, we have a unique opportunity to transform our city and make it a more prosperous community for those who live here.”

Development projects

Butler cited a number of projects underway in Orangeburg that he says will “ultimately change the dynamics of our great city.”

“The projects are important to our city because it shows that we are growing and making a better Orangeburg for everyone who works and lives here,” Butler said. “I also believe that this is just a starting point that will entice other businesses and developers to come to our great city.”

These include the redevelopment of Railroad Corner, which Butler described as a “gateway into our downtown.”

“As many of you know, this project has been in the making for nearly 20 years and I am so excited it is finally underway,” Butler said. “The redevelopment of Railroad Corner is part of a broader city effort to revitalize our urban core and the Russell Street corridor.”

Butler noted the project will offer a mix of student housing, restaurants and commercial and retail space.

“We are also committed to preserving the rich and significant history of Railroad Corner,” he said. “We have a signed letter of intent from renowned photographer Cecil Williams to possibly locate his Civil Rights Museum at Railroad Corner so we can preserve and showcase our history for generations to come.”

Railroad Corner is located at the intersection of Russell, Magnolia and Boulevard streets.

Orangeburg University District Partners has been chosen to develop the property.

The city is seeking a grant to help pay for a pedestrian overpass to cross over Magnolia Street and the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks. The city also wants grant funds for a parking structure.

Columbia-based Mashburn Construction was hired as the general contractor for the $7 million project to upgrade the former First Citizens Bank building at Russell and Broughton streets and turn it into a new city hall.

“Demolition and construction have begun on the new city hall with plans to have the project completed near the end of this year or beginning of next,” Butler said. “The new city hall will allow us to house most of our city departments in one location, enabling us to serve our citizens better and more efficiently.”


While some work has already been completed at Stevenson Auditorium, the city has more work planned. It plans to use its share of the Orangeburg County capital projects sales tax for the work.

The current city hall adjoins Stevenson, and the space could be used for Stevenson events once city employees move out.

The 600-seat theater needs a new roof, carpeting, lighting, stage, dressing room, restrooms and an expanded lobby, officials say.

Bids for a new roof are out and the city is waiting for responses to the bids.

Cosmetic work, new painting and new lights have already been put into the auditorium.

The new renovations will be showcased in the coming days.

“I, along with City Council, understand that our residents are looking for entertainment opportunities in Orangeburg,” Butler said. “This weekend, we will be re-opening Stevenson Auditorium as we feature Eric Who and Melodic Bliss in concert.”

Eric Who is from Orangeburg. He was featured in the recent season of “The Voice.” He was in attendance and was acknowledged on Tuesday.

“We look forward to renovating the auditorium in the future so that we can offer other entertainment opportunities to the residents of our community,” Butler said.

Skate park

The city is also planning to build a skate park.

Florida-based The Platform Group has been named the designer for the $1.1 million facility that will also include a pump track and food court.

“A developer has been chosen and discussions are being held regarding the design and concept of the park,” Butler said. “Public meetings will be held as planning moves forward so that residents have an opportunity to give input.”

The park is planned for the Andrew Dibble Park near the Edisto Memorial Gardens.

A walking trail, fishing pier and dog park are also planned.

The city hopes construction will begin in October or November.

Dixie Youth World Series

“We are also excited to be hosting the 2024 Division I and II Coaches Pitch AA Little League World Series,” Butler said.

The tournament will feature an all-star team from 11 Southeastern states and a host team from Orangeburg.

The teams are made up of 7- and 8-year-old players.

“We look forward to welcoming nearly 50,000 people to our great city next July,” Butler said.

The World Series is scheduled for July 25-30 in 2024.

Edisto Memorial Gardens

Butler also noted a master plan has been in the works to improve Edisto Memorial Gardens.

“The project is ambitious, but we are excited to enhance the gardens, which are a focal point of our city,” Butler said. “We will look at ways to reinvigorate and improve the experience of the gardens.”

Butler noted Orangeburg will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Festival of Roses.

“We look forward to showcasing the gardens and hosting out-of-town visitors who will celebrate this memorial occasion with us,” Butler said. “We also look forward to celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Mirmow Field and the 50th Anniversary of Hillcrest Golf Course later this year.”

Property development

The city is also looking to develop property at the corner of Chestnut Street and U.S. Highway 601 to serve as an introduction to the city.

“This entrance to the city will offer a green space and an area to welcome visitors to the City of Orangeburg,” Butler said.

He said, “City staff is also continuing to work on economic development opportunities. There have been many private developers who have shown interest in our city and we want to showcase the services and benefits that the city offers.”

Seeking federal dollars

Butler noted the city has also received American Rescue Plan Funds to further improve and revitalize the city.

The first tranche included $3.1 million that was allocated for the façade grants; downtown revitalization efforts; Andrew Dibble recreation updates; grants for nonprofits and charitable organizations; and Department of Public Safety-related needs.

The second tranche includes about $3.2 million.

This funding was set aside for affordable housing; Edisto Memorial Gardens and parks; a commercial kitchen; and the gateway project.

“One of our greatest assets is the Orangeburg Municipal Airport, which is home to corporate and private aircraft,” Butler said. “During the last year, the city has acquired nearly $985,000 in grant funding that will go towards the construction of an apron expansion project.”

“Furthermore, the city has secured nearly $34,000 for a terminal renovation,” Butler continued. “We hope to acquire additional grant funding for airport light upgrades and rehabilitation of the primary runway.”

Façade grants

Butler noted the city has developed a façade grant program to encourage investment in downtown revitalization.

“This program provides financial and technical assistance to downtown property and/or business owners for the purpose of façade improvements that adhere to the new program guidelines,” Butler said. “The goal of this program is for our downtown businesses to have a more cohesive appearance by allowing them to choose from three or four pre-selected designs.”

“As your mayor, I can proudly say that the Orangeburg City Council has not raised millage rates since 2019,” Butler said. “Council was able to increase this year’s budget by 3 percent from last year without increasing property taxes.”

Under this year’s budget, a cost-of-living increase was given to all city employees, funding was secured for Railroad Corner and the new city hall, and the city was able to purchase two new fire trucks.

“Furthermore, the city received a clean FY 2020-21 audit with no findings,” Butler said.

Public safety

“One of my priorities as your mayor is for the City of Orangeburg to ensure that we have safe communities for all our residents,” Butler said.

Butler noted the city hired Chief Charles Austin as the director of Public Safety about a year ago.

“With his leadership, we strive every day to make our streets and neighborhoods safe,” Butler said. “Chief Austin and his officers have been diligent in working with neighborhood residents by creating community watch groups.”

Butler also noted ODPS, through a partnership with Claflin University, has received accreditation for its forensic lab.

Butler also noted within the past year ODPS has established Tip411, an app that allows individuals to submit anonymous tips.

Other department achievements include receiving the department’s 7th CALEA reaccreditation; joining SLED’s Fugitive Task Force; and creating a Hazmat team, Butler said.

Butler also noted ODPS has expanded the fire division, has named a battalion chief and purchased a ladder truck, a pumper truck, and a rescue truck “that will assist in making fire response more efficient.”

Department of Public Utilities

“In addition to city services, the Department of Utilities staff has also worked diligently to better serve the needs of our residents,” Butler said.

Butler noted DPU serves two-thirds of the county’s population with one or more utility services and has invested heavily over the past five years in its capital improvement plan.

“These improvements will serve the ratepayers and the Orangeburg community, building a more reliable, resilient and robust utility system that is able to provide businesses and residents with the services they require to power their homes and businesses,” Butler said.

Butler noted the administrative division completed a new Operations Center, which includes an assembly area, crew quarters and covered equipment shed. The center is located on Sprinkle Avenue.

“Furthermore, the administrative division has developed a unified approach to call quality, is taking steps to reduce wait times, and is identifying additional ways for customers to make payments without fees.”

Butler took a moment to recognize DPU and city employees.

“I, along with city council, believe that we are fortunate to have employees who work tirelessly to meet the needs of our residents and I think it is important for them to know that their work does not go unnoticed,” Butler said. “We sincerely appreciate the work that you do.”

Butler said city employees need to be “well compensated, treated fairly and given the upmost respect.”

Butler recognized Martha “Marty” Rose Carson, the owner of Marty Rae’s furniture, with a special plaque. Butler said the Orangeburg store is closing its doors.

Carson is officially retiring from the business after over 50 years of service.

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