NORWAY – A veteran state legislator has worked to secure funding for the Town of Norway, money he hopes will be used to help lift the town out of debt and improve its water infrastructure.

District 91 Rep. Lonnie Hosey, D-Allendale, said he was able to help secure $500,000 from the $13 billion state budget

“Currently this year, Norway, as we know, got into some financial trouble. We’re doing some infrastructure for them to try to get them back on base again. We have $500,000 in the budget this year for them. They’re in debt over $500,000. So once we give them that money, they’re going to be trying to pay down some debt,” Hosey said.

With redistricting, Hosey’s district has gained a portion of western Orangeburg, including areas of Springfield, Neeses, Livingston, Norway and Pine Hill.

Norway Mayor Lynn Garrick thanked Hosey and Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, for their help in securing $500,000 in the state budget for the town.

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“We are extremely grateful for Rep. Hosey and Sen. Hutto for their efforts on the town’s behalf. We are going to pay off as much debt as possible,” Garrick said.

Hosey said much of the town’s state funding was held up because it had failed to turn in required audits.

“Their money was held up based on those audits, where they could not get certain state funds that they have coming. I’m hoping … they can draw down the money and start doing some things in Norway that they need to keep the town going,” the legislator said.

Garrick said, “The audits are diligently being worked on.”

Karen Ingram, communications director at the South Carolina Treasurer’s Office, said in April that the town had yet to turn in its audits from fiscal years 2015-21, resulting in $27,503.48 being withheld from the town.

As of July, the town’s FY 2015 audit had been turned in and funds withheld now totaled $18,163.06.

In the meantime, the town has been securing grant funding to help improve its aging water infrastructure. The town announced during a July 10 Norway Town Council meeting that it had received a $730,400 Viability Planning Grant from the South Carolina Infrastructure Investment Program, or SCIIP.

SCIIP reports that Viability Planning Grants go to very small systems serving 3,300 or fewer people that want to address viability concerns, or evaluate regional options, as well as identify capital improvements needs. No local investment is required.

NORWAY TOWN COUNCIL: Grant to support water infrastructure; rates going up 3%

The mayor reported during the July 10 town council meeting that the town’s Harrison Avenue Water Project was going forward and there would be a 3% increase on water/sewer rates in the town effectively immediately.

The Harrison Avenue Water Project includes the upgrade of water lines. 

The town had initially received a $622,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Lower Savannah Council of Governments to complete the project in March of 2022, but eventually learned the project was going to cost more than the original bid.

LSCOG Executive Director Dr. William Molnar said, “The $622,000 CDBG grant is now $890,000. (S.C. Department of) Commerce kicked in the overage due to high bids and hardship. The project includes all work necessary to upgrade water lines, fire hydrants and other appurtenances along Harrison and Winchester avenues and connecting roads that were not covered by the 2017 Winchester Avenue Ara Water Upgrades CDBG project.”

He continued, “The project will upgrade old iron waterlines that have reached the end of their design life and will provide for increased fire protection on the targeted streets.”

It was noted during a special Norway Town Council meeting held March 9, 2022, that the town was past due on a $58,155 bill to the Department of Public Utilities. The town then proposed to use part of its second half of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds toward the debt.

Garrick said she has “no comment” on the town’s outstanding bill to DPU.

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DPU spokesman Randy Etters said, “To my knowledge, there is an outstanding balance, but I’m not in a position to speak on the amount.”

Etters said DPU has worked with the town on the repair of its water system.

“We’ve been working with their team in trying to help them find some solutions through local and state entities that could help them repair what is a very challenging water-delivery system.

“I think a lot of their issues stem from the fact that they have significant leakage in their system. Small towns are finding it more and more difficult to maintain regulatory standards and things. It’s just the way it is,” Etters said.

“I will say the state is moving in the right direction using some of the infrastructure money to try to regionalize some of the systems to try to help some of these smaller towns out,” he said.

Etters said there are no plans to cut the town’s water supply off.

“There’s a significant number of citizens over there that depend on that water for their lives every day. We just don’t believe that it’s prudent for us to just go threatening disconnection.

“It’s just not fair, but I will say DPU has to protect its existing customers, too. So we can’t put any outstanding debt that they have on the backs of existing customers. So eventually something’s going to have to give,” he said.

Etters continued, “There’s going to be some local- and state-level folks who are going to get involved. At that point, I think everything will get resolved.”

Hosey said, “I know Mayor Butler of Orangeburg approached me to see what we could do to help them because they were doing what they could to help them, especially with the water situation.

“That water comes out of Norway to the school over there, too. So all kinds of things are going on that. We just didn’t need to let it shut down. A whole lot people would suffer from that.”

Other projects

Hosey said seeing the I-19 Corridor Authority Act become law is a priority for him.

The bill would establish a 15-member authority representing Orangeburg, Bamberg, Allendale, Barnwell, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Hampton, Jasper, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Sumter and Williamsburg counties.

Hosey has said he hopes the authority will help reduce poverty and other issues that have crippled an area sometimes referred to as the Corridor of Shame.

“It has gotten sidetracked this year. We had it going last year. I had it pass the House, got it in the Senate, got it back up in the House again, and it died in the Senate. They won’t pass it,” Hosey said.

He said he will try to get it passed next year.

“I’m interested in getting the bill passed for the people it will serve. So if a Republican has to stand in front of it to get that bill moved, I don’t are. I just want the people to benefit from what that bill can do,” he said.

Hosey said he will continue to have town hall meetings to gauge what his constituents want.

“I try to listen to my constituency and what they have in mind. … They don’t want anything shoved down their throats, and you don’t want to do that either. I try to gather information in the town halls,” he said.

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

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