Calhoun County is receiving about $700,000 from the state’s budget, according to Rep. Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews.

Ott said the state has continued to do well financially in recent years. He wants to make sure that “Calhoun County gets its fair share.”

“I love being from a rural community,” Ott said. “I can tell you: A lot of times in this state our rural communities get overlooked. We have to fight, scratch for everything we can possibly get.”

About $700,000 will be coming back to Calhoun County in this year’s budget, Ott said.

That includes:

  • $100,000 to reimburse the county for the work done to improve the railroad cut in St. Matthews
  • $100,000 for a walking track in Sandy Run
  • About $450,000 for the sports recreation complex in St. Matthews
  • About $50,000 for welcome signs in Cameron

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Ott said the county’s children deserve to play at a first-class facility and the recreational park will be one example.

“We can do that now at some point in the near future with Calhoun County to be able to bring folks in and show off what we have and providing our youth with the opportunities they deserve,” Ott said.

Council members expressed appreciation for Ott’s work in Columbia and his support for Calhoun County.

In other matters

  • District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Bonnette was sworn into office.

Bonnette has said she will work hard for transparency, low taxes and individual taxpayer property rights. She also has promised to work to minimize overdevelopment and to keep constituents notified of anything that will affect their liberty or finances.

She fills the seat of former Councilman John Nelson, who promised upon his election 12 years ago that he would only serve three terms.

District 5 Councilman James Haigler and District 4 Councilman Cecil Thornton were also sworn in. Haigler has served in Calhoun County government for 32 years and Thornton has served on council since 2011.

Judge Jeffrey Bloom conducted the swearing-in ceremony.

Council also unanimously re-elected Haigler as chairman and Ken Westbury as vice chairman. Bonnette was elected as the body’s new chaplain.

  • Council unanimously accepted a $375,000 low bid from JR Barton Construction to construct concession buildings at the St. Matthews sports complex.

The project will include a 2,240-square-foot concession building, bathrooms and a score tower.

County Administrator John McLauchlin said the project will be paid for with a recreation bond and state appropriations.

The county approved a $2 million recreational bond in October 2022. The bond will have about a .99% interest rate over five years.

  • Council gave unanimous second reading approval to an ordinance allowing private ambulance services to enter into franchise agreements with the county to provide patient convalescent transport.

The ordinance will enable the county to use the private ambulance services for mutual aid response, if needed. The ambulance companies would also provide the county with data on call volume and service utilization.

County officials have said EMS cannot handle the patient load of all those needing transportation to doctors’ offices or dialysis transports.

The ordinance will enable the county EMS to review complaints or concerns from residents about the ambulance services and to bring the concerns to County Council.

County officials say there is no cost to implement the ordinance unless the county desires to put in penalties or fines for any problems with the ambulance services.

  • Council unanimously voted to finalize the Tri-County Multi County Industrial Park agreement with Orangeburg County and Tri-County Electric Cooperative.

Both Calhoun and Orangeburg counties have partnered to develop the 300-acre industrial park off of U.S. Highway 601 near Interstate 26 Exit 145.

Both counties have spent money on the park’s infrastructure and both will be responsible for helping sell properties in the park.

Under the agreement, the counties will receive back funds spent in infrastructure and, once the infrastructure is paid off, Orangeburg County will receive 75 percent of the fee-in-lieu of taxes from industries that locate in the park and Calhoun County will receive 25 percent.

The property is located in Orangeburg County.

  • Council unanimously approved a resolution honoring the late Roger L. Hill, a former county councilman.

Hill served on council for 28 years until 2010. He died on Dec. 19 at the age of 86.

Hill helped establish the county’s first rural fire department in Sandy Run, along with the countywide Emergency Medical Services system.

Hill’s service went beyond council. He served on the S.C. Forestry Commission board for 62 years and on the board of Calhoun Academy from its inception in December 1969 until his death.

He was a volunteer fireman with Sandy Run Station for years, and served on the Lower Savannah Council of Governments for 19 years.

  • Council gave 4-1 approval to third and final reading of the rezoning of about 131 acres of property to community commercial and industrial. The land is located on Old Sandy Run Road, off of Exit 125 near Interstate 26.

The rezoning includes the front portion of the property. The Old Sandy Run Road frontage property will be rezoned commercial and the rear portion of the property will be rezoned industrial.

The rezoning was requested by Gateway One Land Development LLC.

A public hearing was held before third reading. There were no comments.

Bonnette voted against final reading, noting many residents are opposed to any changes on the property.

  • Council gave unanimous third and final reading approval to an amendment to the county’s land development regulations.

The most noteworthy amendments include stipulations that subdivisions with lots of less than 1/3 an acre are required to have a curb and gutter and that the county’s planning and zoning administrator can review and approve subdivisions of six lots or less without Planning Commission review.

The majority of the other changes bring the ordinance up to date and in line with state regulations.

No comments were made during the public hearing on the amendment.

  • Council unanimously agreed to accept the 420-foot Wild Cherry Court into the county’s road maintenance system.

The road has three homes and the acceptance of the road was done at the request of the property owners due to concerns the road is not safe for emergency vehicles.

Council unanimously amended the agenda to go into executive session for a personnel matter.

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