The Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities has completed a new $15 million operations center spanning more than 60,000 square feet.

The new facility was celebrated with a ribbon cutting on Aug. 24.

The 63,475-square-foot center includes two buildings located on a 24-acre site at 350 Sprinkle Ave. Construction on the center got underway in June 2020 and was completed earlier this year.

Orangeburg DPU Manager Warren Harley was among the DPU employees who gathered at the site with members of Orangeburg City Council and Orangeburg County Council and other community members for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Officials cut the ribbon for the Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities’ new $63,475-square-foot operations center at 350 Sprinkle Ave. dur…

“Everything that we’ve done here is a representation of our heart for this community. It is a representation of the growth that we see not only in the city and county, but with employees,” Harley said.

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The first new building is a 36,000-square-foot crew facility and the second is a 27,475-square-foot metal building for parking and storage.

“It’s a commitment to our employees who for too long had to stand out in the rain and winter and storms to do briefings. Now they can come into a cozy place before they go out and do their work,” Harley said.

The DPU manager read the poem titled “The Bridge Builder” by Will Allen Dromgoole to emphasize the teamwork and resourcefulness that the new operations center represented.

“It was a $15 million project and built during the pandemic. So it was very difficult for us to get stuff done at times, but it was certainly worth the effort. We’re proud of the facility, proud to provide an opportunity for our employees to work in an environment that gives them everything that they need to do their jobs,” he said.

Harley continued, “I’m really proud of what the DPU has built, and it shows our commitment to do a better job of serving our community. We built this to house our crew quarters, and then there’s an assembly room where we do training and storm events. We can gather our employees and those who have come to assist us to restore power in the assembly room.”

“We can give them instructions about the work for the day. We can serve them food and do all of the things that we used to either somewhere else, or under that shed in the back. … We don’t have to do that anymore. We can accommodate everybody under one roof and have an updated, state-of-the-art facility for each crew in each division.”

The operations center will house all DPU field staff such as linemen, natural gas crews, water crews and wastewater crews.

Crew quarters had been in the inventory warehouse, which was built in 1967, when the DPU workforce was approximately a third of its current size. The prior crew facility also had limited access to restrooms and shower facilities and was too small to accommodate the growing workforce.

“We have computer stations for our employees for their work and training needs. Each crew quarter has a training room within it. So they can do meetings before shifts, or training sessions during the day. Also, we can host events. … So it does extend the ability for us to serve some of the areas in the community that may need facilities to hold events,” Harley said.

Joshua Nexsen, DPU director of administration, said the project represents a team effort.

“Every member of every division, of every area of the company participated in the planning and the programming. Their input and their needs were considered in the feedback and the design of its creation,” Nexsen said.

He thanked Keith Clarke and his design team at MCA Architecture, Dangerfield Engineering for their administration of the construction, along with “numerous other valuable subcontractors” for their work on the project.

“I hope this site takes DPU well into the next century and serves the employees, citizens and ratepayers over the coming decades,” said Nexsen, who also thanked Harley and Orangeburg City Council for council’s approval of the project.

Harley said, “When we bring big dreams and big price tags to council, they always ask questions. They always do their due diligence, but ultimately they bought into the vision and really got behind what we thought was best for our community and for our employees. I want to thank them.”

Orangeburg Mayor Michael C. Butler said, “I want to thank Mr. Harley and his team and all of DPU’s employees because certainly I know all of you had a part in making this coming to fruition.”

City Councilwoman Liz Zimmerman Keitt said, “This shows the growth of what Orangeburg really can be. … I am so thankful. This is growth, and we see it all around us.”

City Councilman Dr. Kalu Kalu said, “This building here is a central figure here in Orangeburg.”

Kalu said he salutes DPU employees and their service to the community. Leadership is about meeting the needs of the community, which the new operations center will do.

City Councilwoman Sandra Knotts said, “It took a vision. … Thank you DPU for the job that you do every day.”

City Council members Jerry Hannah and Richard Stroman were also in attendance, along with Orangeburg County Council members Deloris Frazier and Johnny Ravenell.

“We always try to work hand in hand. It’s a blessing that we can come together and work together,” Ravenell said.

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

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